OFF TO INDIA: Tom Cooper prepares for a trip to India with the Australian cricket team. Picture: STEVE SPINKS
OFF TO INDIA: Tom Cooper prepares for a trip to India with the Australian cricket team. Picture: STEVE SPINKS

Indian cricket adventure for Tom

By STEVE SPINKS

TOM COOPER of Corndale, near Lismore, doesn't know what he'll say to Australian cricketer Shane Warne when he meets him this week. It could be a tough introduction. After all, Cooper, 17, and his father Barry will be having a 10-day stay with the Australian team in India ? all expenses paid ? thanks to the leg-spin legend. However, it was not an act of charity by Warne ? it was a positive drug test. Cricket Australia decided to give the opportunity of a lifetime to one youngster with the money it saved from not having to pay Warne after he was suspended for one year for testing positive to a diuretic in 2003. Cooper turned out to be that lucky youngster after he was named player of the carnival at the Australian Under-17 championships in Adelaide earlier this year. He averaged more than 100 with the bat during the week-long carnival. "I don't know what I'll say," Cooper admitted. "I'll probably thank him (Warne), but that might not go down too well." The outstanding young batsman is still pinching himself. He can't believe he will be facing the likes of Warne, Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie in the nets as well as practising alongside the acting Australian captain, Lismore's own Adam Gilchrist. "It will be a bit intimidating," Cooper said. "It will be interesting to see how they prepare for games and to see how they deal with the stress. "It will be good to see how much hard work is done behind the scenes." Cooper has made an impact in his relatively short representative career. He has represented NSW Under-17s for two seasons, NSW Under-19s and NSW Colts. He is considering heading to Sydney after Christmas to play grade cricket, but everything has been put on hold because of the trip to India. The Coopers will fly to Mumbai today, and train and watch a three-day warm-up match. Busy time They will then travel with the Aussie team to Bangalore to watch two days of the First Test before heading home. It will be a busy time, especially for Tom. Ten days after he returns from India he will sit the Higher School Certificate at St John's College, Woodlawn. Cooper's friends at school have added to his workload. They have all asked for autographs of the Australian players. "One said make sure you get Warney's phone number for me," Cooper laughed.



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