Game no 200 for Chasemore

Latest member of Cricket Victoria’s illustrious 200 club is Frankston Heat captain-coach Matt Chasemore, who is due to play his milestone game against Melbourne in round 19. Ken Piesse reports.......

One of the ironies in Matt Chasemore’s career is that he won a bowling average at Dandenong ahead of Peter Siddle and Darren Pattinson.

His desire to bowl more was a pivotal factor in his move from one end of Dandenong-Frankston Rd to the other. He’d had 12 years at Dandenong, gone unselected for its first premiership side – having played all year – and felt his career needed revitalising.

He’s grateful for his time at Dandenong, in particular for the confidence shown in him by Warren Ayres, the finest club player in his experience, as well as other Dandenong stalwarts in Brendan McArdle and Bruce Waldron.chasemore_pulls_r16

But he is also loving his fresh opportunity at Frankston where he now plays as a genuine allrounder batting at five or six and bowling at first or second change.

The Heat have had a mixed year but their best, especially with Scott Boland in the XI, remains as good as almost any of their higher ranked Premier League opponents.

A top six place beckons if one of the favored teams for the premiership Melbourne can be upset this weekend.

Coming off a fine double of 39 not out and 60 in a Futures League match last week, Chasemore says the club’s recent run of six wins in seven matches has given everyone extra confidence to believe that the Heat can compete against anybody.

“We have lost eight from the side that played off in the Grand Final (against Dandenong two years ago),” Chasemore said, “and I say very confidently that this group of young players coming through now is as good, if not better, than any I’ve come across.”

He is fortunate to inherit a solid playing and coaching structure established by Nick Jewell, now playing on the Peninsula, which includes specialist coaches Peter Buchanan and Shaun Graf, development coach Dave McClean and others like ex-player Chris Hall, who assists with on-going spin tuition.

Without their guidance and input, his job as a first-year coach would have been so much more onerous.

“This is my first year. I’d had no experience and no (formal) qualifications. It has been a real learning curve. Next year I hope to improve on that.”

Having generally batted in the top four all his career, including his 12 years at Dandenong, Chasemore says allowing younger players to shoulder more responsibility will keep Frankston Peninsula strong for years.

“Guys like Matty Gapes, Dale Elmi and Ben Hillard are long-term top-order batsmen and are really coming on. There are others too not only in the firsts but in the seconds just itching for their chance. They are so keen and so passionate and listen to what you say. You can only improve when you have that sort of attitude.”

Chasemore mentors and encourages, just like Ayres, McArdle and Waldron did when he was a newcomer making his way in the lower grades at Dandenong.chasemore_sf

“I was batting at four in the seconds when Warren came in and told me from now on, I was going to open. That’s beautiful, I thought, opening in the seconds. Come the Thursday night first game selection, I was in the ones, he’d meant me opening in the firsts. ‘You’re good enough to do it,’ he told me. ‘Just back yourself.’ ”

Chasemore said batting with Ayres was an education. “One day at Essendon we shared a stand of 110 and he got 95 or 97 of them,” he said. “Halfway through I said to him: “Are they bowling crap to you and better to me?  He just smiled and said they were scared when they were bowling to him. “They know if they don’t get their line and length every time they’re going for four.”

Chasemore loved the team environment at Dandenong and the way more experienced players would look after each other.

“Opening up with Ben Nicholson for example. We were going in against some pretty handy types, guys like Harwood, Nannes and Chris Street who all had good pace. ‘Nicho’ would look to shield me as much as he could early, taking a single off the last ball. ‘Back up a long way,’ he’d say as he tried to keep me off strike for as long as he could while I got comfortable.

“We have that same feeling of mateship at Frankston. I know guys are looking after me just as I am looking after them.”

Chasemore says it was his good fortune to speak to Nick Jewell about a frontline leadership role at Frankston. “Nick still says without him I’d be no where and he’s probably right!”

The only flag team he’d played in at Dandenong was a Twenty20 championship and in his first year at Frankston he played in the Premier League grand final against his old team at Melbourne University, in a match widely regarded as the closest and most gripping ever.

“We lost the game but it was close, very very close,” he said.groves

“Getting through that season and beating some of the more fancied sides like Geelong at Geelong was really something. Luke Walker on the first day was fantastic, holding it all together and then on the second ‘Groover’ (Darren Groves)  caught Finchy (Aaron Finch) low down at cover first or second ball off Johnny Holland and ‘Funky’ (James Miller) blew the game open after tea. That was one of the great wins.”

In his 200-game, 15-season journey Chasemore says one of the “backroom boys” particularly influential in his development was Nick Speak, now the batting coach at Melbourne.

He worked for several years with Nick and says he’d like to “put on a show for him” come round 19 and the game with Melbourne – his 200th.

Chasemore  played his first 120 or so games in the firsts at Dandenong without interruption before being dropped in the 2006-07 premiership year for a semi-final. “I’d made only 240 or so runs for the year, so I had only myself to blame,” he said.

“It must have been a hard decision for Warren to make, but I wasn’t the only one that year. The team and the club is everything and Warren made his decisions in good faith and we won the flag that year and Warren helped shape the next one, too – unfortunately against us!”

Before being dropped, Chasemore had made 800 runs the season before, in 2005-06, including three centuries.

He says he’d like to remain frontline at Frankston for several more years to come yet. “I’ve always said when my little boy (Callum) started playing sport I’d be there for him, so that’s still two or three years away yet.

“There is a lot than can be achieved in that time.”
Ken Piesse

Ken Piesse’s latest book "The Terror" centres on Charlie Turner, Australia’s best forgotten cricketer, who was recently inducted into the Australian cricket hall of fame. Check the website for more info:

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