A STINT in the northern hemisphere summer for an ambitious young Australian cricketer with hopes of one day pulling on the Baggy Green cap would usually mean a few months playing on the green-tinged wickets of England. Bryce Street, however, has gone Dutch for the past two years and is now reaping the rewards.
The 22-year-old says two seasons as the overseas professional at Hague Cricket Club not only helped with his cricket but has also given him a new outlook on how he approaches the game. The Queensland left-handed opener says his change of attitude was one of the reasons he was handed his first full first-class contract by his adopted state when the Bulls’ list was released in late June. Street, who enjoyed a stellar season in 2019, would have been in the Netherlands now preparing for the Australian summer if it had not been for the coronavirus pandemic. It would have been Street’s third straight year playing at HCC.
Brought up on the fast, bouncy tracks on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Street says playing in Holland helped with his technique, with grass wickets very rare. “There are some clubs who have updated to grass wickets but most of the clubs, including the one I played for, still play on matting,” Street said.
“That was a very alien experience, obviously the wickets are very different to what they are over here. “In terms of me learning, it was a really good experience for me to go over there and learn to adapt and change things. “What I actually learned benefited me well when I came back here.”
Off the field too, Street’s two years at HCC helped give him a different outlook on his burgeoning career. “It was a very different culture to what I had experienced,” he said.
“All the cricket I have played in the past six to seven years has been very competitive and involved a professional mindset. “Playing with guys who purely enjoy playing cricket and love the social aspect, that really changed my perspective on how I looked at the game and I thought ‘it’s still just a game’ regardless of what level you play at. “The aspects I have brought back from Holland are more linked to how I am around my performances. “There are days when you are not going to do well, so it’s being able to sit back and enjoy the game even when you are not doing well and not get too caught up in your own performances, otherwise it just eats you alive.”
Street also found love in the Netherlands, meeting his girlfriend Iris Zwilling – also a player at HCC. “The structure of women’s cricket isn’t as good as it is in Australia,” he said.
“Some women do play men’s league cricket. I played in the first team, she played in the seconds and played in the Dutch women’s national team. “She came here last year and hopefully will come back when travel starts up again after COVID-19.”
Like most sports, cricket has struggled with the coronavirus pandemic. Cricket Australia was forced to cut several jobs, with chief executive Kevin Roberts also falling on his sword. Street is sure cricket can prosper once the virus is controlled and said the Queensland squad was now focused on the upcoming season, however it turns out. “COVID-19 has had a pretty big effect on all sports but as the NRL and AFL are showing, sports can bounce back,” Street said.
“It’s good to see them show other sports that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and you can get through this and it will be OK. “We don’t really know what the future holds in terms of how we are going to go balancing life alongside COVID-19 because there may not be a vaccine any time soon or there might be a second or third wave. “The uncertainties in that department make it interesting.
“We can only plan for what we know. “You can’t focus on what you can’t control, so as a squad now we are just focusing on a normal return start date and the rest will take care of itself. “When other things come up, we can adjust then.”
Street’s breakout season for Queensland came after four rookie campaigns. He scored 489 runs at an average of 37.61, including a maiden Sheffield Shield century against Western Australia. He is determined to carry on that success in his first season on a full contract and will be looking for plenty of help from mentors and Bulls teammates as he looks to bring success not only for himself but for Queensland.
“I have always had people I have looked up to and people I have turned to for advice,” Street said.
“Having as many opinions as possible is always handy, so I never really try to continue with just one person because otherwise you tend to hear the same things repeatedly. “Having a change of perspective is always good. “It’s the same with people who I look up to.”
“You watch people on TV and say ‘I like what I see about what they do’ and then you see someone else and you try to pick bits and pieces of everyone and try them for yourself and see what works well for you and what doesn’t. “It’s all about trial and error. I am still young and even in our Bulls squad there’s senior guys above me like Burnsy (Joe Burns), Marnus (Labuschagne) and Uzzie (Usman Khawaja) who have all played Test cricket and then some of the older guys who have been around for years and guys who have played Australia A as well. “There’s lots of experience above me to delve into. “I am always talking to people who have had experience at the next level and that’s the easiest way to learn.”
Like most other up-and-coming Australian cricketers Gosford-born Street has ambitions to play for his country at Test level.
But he is keeping himself grounded and is focusing on doing his best for Queensland before allowing himself thoughts of playing international cricket. “Every state cricketer’s dream is to represent their country,” he said.
“But if you play state cricket with the pure mindset of wanting to play for Australia, then you are kind of defeating the purpose. “Playing for Queensland is a damn high honour and if you are only playing for a team to try to reach the next level, then I don’t think that’s giving enough respect to the team you’re playing for.”
If he continues to show the game the same respect as he does his teammates, then we may soon be seeing Bryce Street striding out for Australia.