David Dawson scored 148 for NSW Second XI against ACT Comets at Manuka Oval in October. Photo: Melissa Adams
David Dawson admits it will be a strange feeling to leave his wicketkeeping gloves behind for his Canberra homecoming this week.
A weight of runs at club level and in the Futures League has led to the 30-year-old retaining his place in the NSW team for the Sheffield Shield match against Queensland at Manuka Oval, starting on Tuesday.
Eight years after making his first-class debut, Dawson will step on to the ground where he grew up watching the annual Prime Minister's XI fixture and dreaming of making the elite stage.
He will open the batting in his second game for the Blues this season before fielding, with former Australian representative Brad Haddin behind the stumps.
And with fellow keeper Peter Nevill also in the squad, Dawson is in the unusual position of packing a lighter bag for the four-day game.
''It's quite a funny situation,'' Dawson said. ''I was only saying to Pete the other day that this is probably the first time I haven't had to pack my keeping gear.
''Even if I was second in line I'd sometimes take my kit just in case there was an injury or illness, but being third in line I'm pretty safe that I won't be getting a go with the gloves. I've had a go in the slips from time to time, but a few of the guys are pretty established in those positions, so I'll probably slot in somewhere in the covers or at point.''
Dawson began his first-class career with Tasmania in impressive fashion, becoming the first Australian to score a century on debut.
However, he was unable to secure a regular spot and played 23 games before losing his contract in 2009.
He moved to Sydney to be closer to family while still hoping to break into the NSW team.
Ironically, it was an innings in Canberra which played a leading role in forcing his way into the NSW shield side, a terrific 148 for the state second XI against the ACT Comets in a Futures League match in October, which led to his selection for the match against Victoria earlier this month.
Dawson made 4 and 40 and is hoping to capitalise on a usual batsman-friendly pitch against the competition leaders. He is one of a select few who have multiple appearances for the PM's XI - taking on England in 2002 and the West Indies in 2005.
And after growing up watching Haddin play for the Comets, Dawson has learnt plenty playing alongside the veteran international.
''Hads is a wonderful player and a great guy to have around the side,'' he said. ''His experience is second to none and to have a guy of his character around the group is invaluable to the whole organisation.''
NSW v Queensland at Manuka Oval from Tuesday to Friday, 11am start daily. Tickets at the gate.