Cooper set for a very Big Bash

LOCAL cricketer Tom Cooper faces a busy couple of weeks.

Not only will the former Corndale resident be playing in the Twenty20 Big Bash final for South Australia tonight, but he has been selected to play alongside Matthew Hayden in the Prime Minister’s XI against the West Indies on February 4.

The PM’s XI team rewards those who have impressed in the interstate season and tends to be a team of young players who in the Australian selectors’ minds are hungry for a shot at international cricket.

Hayden will captain the side and Cooper will play among some of cricket’s up and comers, like Tim Paine, George Bailey and Jon Holland.

“It is really exciting but I’m a bit nervous about facing an international team,” he said.

“Hayden is one of the greatest players ever and to play alongside him is a real thrill.

“Hopefully I can learn quite a bit.”

Cooper, 23, currently averages over 50 in one-dayers and is in the top-ten run scorers this season in the Ford Ranger Cup.

Despite his outstanding personal form, the Redbacks have struggled for consistency and are at the bottom of the Ford Ranger Cup ladder.

“We didn’t have a great start to the season,” Cooper said.

“I can’t put my finger on the reason why we lost the first four matches.

“But we’ve won our last couple of matches.”

It is Cooper’s second season with the Redbacks and from batting at first drop, he has begun to establish himself in the side.

“I’m slowly settling into shorter-length games” he said.

“But I’m trying to build up for Sheffield Shield games.

“If I keep scoring runs with the opportunities I get, then the selectors can’t leave me out.”

Cooper will line-up for the Redbacks tonight in the Twenty20 Big Bash final against Victoria Bushrangers.

Crowds at the Big Bash series have increased by over 80 per cent from last year and Cooper cannot wait to play in front of the sold out crowd at the Adelaide Oval.

“It is very exciting to play for a team that’s vying for its first silverware for the first time since 1995,” he said.

“We’re feeling confident and we won four of the five qualifying matches quite convincingly, including against Victoria.”

Cooper has also been impressed by the contributions from international imports Kieron Pollard and Shahid Afridi.

“They’ve been great,” he said.

“They have performed exceptionally and just worked into the team like they’ve been there for years.

“Afridi will miss the final due to Pakistani commitments but hopefully Pollard can score a bag of runs.”

The key to the Redbacks’ success, Cooper believes, was their relaxed attitude to their cricket.

“We were told to just enjoy our cricket and if we did the simple things it would go a long way to winning,” he said.

And with their participation in the final of the Big Bash, Cooper can look forward to the Redbacks playing in the Champions League in India later in the year.

But the idea of playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is one that is still a long way off for Cooper.

“If the opportunity arose that would be great, but at the moment I want to focus on scoring runs and batting well for South Australia,” he said.

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