Matt Chave gets in the groove to feel at home at Great Shelford
Australian glad to get in a spin in UK
Sitting fourth in the leading wicket takers in Whiting & Partners Cambs & Hunts Premier League suggests that Matt Chave has made a quick adjustment to English conditions.
The 21-year-old Australian is over for the summer with Great Shelford, and he has wasted little time in getting to grips with his new surroundings.
Chave claimed his first five-wicket haul in the win over Warboys, and that lifted him into the top five wicket takers across both divisions, and second in Division Two.
“It’s obviously a new experience for me, coming over from Australia, but the season’s going really well,” he said.
“My bowling, I’ve been feeling really good with the ball. And also with the bat too, unfortunately I haven’t put a few scores on the board but I’m sure they’re not too far away.
“The season has gone really well, I’ve settled in well with Great Shelford.”
Chave had been looking to spend a summer in the UK in order to develop his game, and Great Shelford’s Dan Heath and Alex Stafford were looking for an overseas player, and the two parties were put in contact through an agent.
“I didn’t have much of an idea of what I was walking into, but I think that was part of the excitement almost, walking into an unknown and it’s been a fantastic experience, so far,” he said.
“I play grade cricket back home – I play second grade at the moment, and I’m pushing hard to play first grade in Perth, which is quite a high level.
“Coming over here is completely different to playing cricket back home in Australia and you can only develop your game by coming over and experiencing new conditions, new people, new experiences, so it was an exciting chance that I couldn’t refuse.
“I did a bit of travel at school playing cricket but nothing of this sort of standard so it’s a whole new ball game for me.”
As a leg spin bowler, it is not quite a whole new ball game for Chave though, and you would certainly not think so given the way he started for Great Shelford.
In only his second game of the season, he took three wickets and then in his next game, Chave claimed four – and that form has continued to help him get to 24 wickets to date.
“I’ve been really consistent with the ball since the first game really, and that’s been great for me,” he said. “That’s obviously my main role as a bowler, as a spin bowler, but it’s been a fantastic experience.
“The Shelford wicket really helps me out, it’s a pretty spin-friendly wicket which has been nice as well.
“I’m batting at No 3 for Shelford at the moment, and batting is a whole different experience coming from Australia to play here.
“The wickets are remarkably slower and harder to bat than what they are at home, and that’s been a really tough adjustment initially to get used to.
“Getting to this point of the season, I’m just starting to adjust now which has been nice.
“It was good to finally get a five on the board but it was just fantastic for the team to get another win.
“We’re fighting pretty hard at the moment and we’re right in amongst that log jam in the middle of the table so every 30 points we get is massive for us.”
Chave’s club back in Australia is South Perth, which has a rich history of high-profile players.
The club captain is current international Hilton Cartwright, Aussie internationals Chris Rogers and Damien Martyn have played for them as have former England players Robin Smith and the Hollioake brothers, Adam and the late Ben.
“It’s not produced a lot of cricketers in recent times, but it’s a very, very young club so it’s a fantastic club to be part of,” said Chave. “They’ve certainly helped me along the way, and now to have this opportunity to come over here and play for Shelford it’s only going to develop my game even more to go back home and push for higher honours and achieve that goal of playing first-class cricket, which would be nice.”
Chave did have a setback in making strides towards that ambition a few years ago when it was discovered that he was suffering from a rare genetic disease which forced him to have lifesaving surgery to remove his stomach which was full of cancerous growths.
He made a remarkable recovery to come back to cricket just eight weeks post-operation, but the recovery stalled and he did not continue his cricket until the 2015-16 season.
And while the adjustment to a new country has been good for Chave, it has been hard at times.
“I was dealt a few really bad health blows about three years ago and I never really thought I would get here so for me it’s always been a tough adjustment first time away from home and dealing with some health battles too,” he said.
“The adjustment has been slow and steady but I’m really enjoying myself here, loving it.
“They’re a fantastic bunch of guys and a really small family club so it’s really fantastic to be a part of something like that where everyone knows each other and everyone gets along.”
And as the wear on wickets takes effect as the longer the summer goes on, the conditions should fall even more to Chave’s liking.
But he is just focused on the success of Great Shelford, rather than individual glory.
“As long as the team is going well, for me personally the achievement is not really important. It’s just about developing my game and making sure Great Shelford get what they want to achieve out of this season,” he said.
“Initially, it was staying up after just being promoted that was key, but now we see ourselves right in amongst it. So it’s about pushing for promotion again, why not?
“The club is in an interesting position right now, it’s building it’s youth set-up very well and Dan and Alex have a lot of pull in that sense with their outside business.
“And the guys in the first team are putting in a hell of a lot of work to push the club forward and get it going in the right direction, which is fantastic.”
Chave was unable to add to his tally last Saturday though, as Great Shelford were beaten by 93 runs by second-placed Sawston & Babraham.
Matthew Hague hit 65 and Liam Flynn made 50 for Sawston & Babraham as they made 214 for 7.
Stafford was the pick of the Shelford bowlers, taking four for 54.
And Shelford were unable to get going in reply, with Tom Barnard and Ben Clilverd their top scorers, both hitting 33, as they were dismissed for 121.
Aaron Pledger took three for 33 and Nick Griggs got three for 34, with Mark Smith and Dilshan Manamperi taking two wickets apiece.