200 up for Ben

Saturday will be a landmark day for Ben Fletcher. Andrew Groves spoke to the Premier ace.

Not only will he be facing up against former club Essendon, hell also be playing his 200th game at the highest level.

It will be an emotional fixture for the former Windy Hill captain after leaving for Melbourne University before Christmas.

The Students will want him to put the occasion to one side and focus on the victory they need to secure a finals place.fletcher_r9_v_carl_3

When I started all these years ago I never really thought about getting to 200 games, said Fletcher.

"I just wanted to play as long as I could at this level and keep accumulating games up. Ive been pretty lucky with injury I suppose. Ive only missed two games in the last 13 years.

Fletcher still has a lot of friends at the Bombers, the place where he started his Premier career nearly 18 years ago.

After moving up through the grades, he quickly established himself as one of the club's best bats and holds the record for the highest individual score.

His 210 not out against Geelong in 2008-09 sits proud at the top of the list.

I grew up there and played since 1995, he continued.

Its a club with a very proud tradition and Im very proud to have played with them for all those years. I went through the highs and the lows there and have some very happy memories.

Whatever happens happens on Saturday. It was a clean separation and theres no hard feelings there with anyone, no animosity at all.

Its just another game and will be more in a sporting context than a personal one for me. Its an important game for Uni, weve got a chance of getting into the finals which will be a great achievement.

Looking back on his career to date Fletcher has one or two games which will always be etched into his memory.

The double-century of course is a career highlight.

As was the role he played in the Bombers' second grade Premier victory in 1998-99.

However, there is one knock which will stay with him forever.fletcher_r9_v_carl_2

I played on a complete mud heap at Ringwood a few seasons ago, I honestly dont know how we played that day, the ball was bouncing everywhere over my head from a half-volley length, he said.

But you just had to find a way to bat and battle out in the conditions. I managed to make 93 that day and Id have to say thats my favourite innings.

Of course the 200 was something special, but if Im being honest it was just an amazing batting wicket that day. In that game there was 800 runs scored for the loss of eight wickets so that just shows you.

But the Ringwood innings was my favourite, its amazing how things like that stick in your head.

Fletchers past was certainly with the Bombers.

But his future lies at University Main Oval. At 33 there is life in the old dog yet and his hunger for Premier cricket isnt dissipating.

I cant speak highly enough of Melbourne University Cricket Club, he said.

They are very professional, train hard and the guys there are great. Going forward, Id like to think I can help the club progress in the future.

Im 33 now but I feel like Im 21, I still feel like Ive got a lot to give.

Off the field Fletcher keeps himself busy running his own health and fitness business which is just about to branch out nationally.

Keeping fit is certainly his main past time. As is looking after his two children, with a new addition expected next week.

As for the many players he has shared a field with he cites Mathew Inness and Craig Berger as two of the greats.

A summer batting alongside former England international Vikram Solanki is also a career high.

Ben Fletcher in Premier Cricket:

Season     Club    M    I   NO   Runs    HS     Ave    100  50    Ct
1999-00    Ess     1    1    1     14    14                        0
2000-01    Ess     1    1    1     11    11                        1
2001-02    Ess    17   19    5    904   132*   64.57    4    2    17
2002-03    Ess    17   18    0    539    82    29.94    0    5    11
2003-04    Ess    15   18    5    575   100*   44.23    1    3     7
2004-05    Ess    18   20    3    650    93    38.24    0    4     8
2005-06    Ess    18   17    1    612   170    38.25    2    2     5
2006-07    Carl   20   22    3    612   109    32.21    1    4    14
2007-08    Ess    19   22    1    554   120*   26.38    1    2    12
2008-09    Ess    15   14    3    747   210*   67.91    1    6    10
2009-10    Ess    15   16    0    550   122    34.38    1    3     8
2010-11    Ess    16   15    3    568   128*   47.33    1    4     7
2011-12    Ess    15   19    3    640   120*   40.00    1    4    15
2012-13    Ess     5    4    0     36    17     9.00               0
2012-13    Uni     7    8    1    119    37*   17.00               6
TOTAL            199  214   30   7131   210*   38.76   13   39   121

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