ACT Comets batsman Dean Solway. Photo: Jay Cronan
It was the toughest decision of his life, but Dean Solway says he had no option but to leave Canberra to have any chance of breaking into first-class cricket.
Solway joined South Australia's Redbacks academy this year but will still play in the Futures League for ACT Comets, beginning with tomorrow's season-opener against New South Wales at Manuka Oval.
Former Comet Sam Miller has broken into South Australia's Sheffield Shield line-up, and Solway is desperate to follow suit.
''I don't think I'm really around with the Redbacks at all just yet. I moved over here with the understanding I was part of the emerging Redbacks squad,'' Solway said yesterday.
''At least I'm giving myself an opportunity to play state cricket. If I'm living and playing in Canberra, you can have the best year ever and still not play grade cricket.
''That was the motive for me to move. If I do pile on the runs in the Futures and grade cricket, anything can happen.''
Despite a slow start in Adelaide grade cricket for Prospect, the 19-year-old says his game has blossomed under former Australia coach Tim Nielsen, now head of the Redbacks academy.
Solway said Nielsen had helped iron out a few technical chinks in his batting armour, which he hopes will help him graduate to the next level.
''He's definitely helped me out with a few things. I'm not really scoring the runs at the moment but still feel like my game's pretty good,'' he said.
''Just training in that environment, where they're all professional, the Comets were like that too but you weren't training with guys that are [state]-contracted players.
''Tim got me to change a few technical things at the start of the season, my bat life and playing the short ball, things like that.
''He's definitely helped me. It's about putting it into practice and getting a start in the middle.''
Solway believes more Canberrans are capable of taking the plunge and joining South Australia in coming seasons.
''There's a good link here with Canberra guys and I'm living with Mick Delaney, who played in Canberra a few years ago,'' Solway said. ''South Australia probably haven't done too well in the state stuff over the years, Sheffield Shield in particular.
''There's definitely a lot of opportunities here.
''Once two or three guys go over you start to get a few more, and possibly next year we'll see another couple come over and have a crack.''