NSW wicketkeeper-batsman Ryan Carters. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Ryan Carters finished high school with a study average better than Sir Donald Bradman's Test average of 99.94, and former Australia bowler Geoff Lawson says the rising Canberra star is ready to launch his own cricket career.
Former Radford College student Carters has emerged on the Cricket Australia radar with a Sheffield Shield average of 81.8 and two first-class centuries in the past month.
Five years ago, Carters was one of the smartest students in Canberra and his University Admissions Index score of 99.95 was the equal second best in the ACT.
But while a university degree of his choice beckoned, the talented Carters was only focused on chasing a cricket career.
''I only wanted to play cricket. It's what I've been dreaming about since I was a little kid,'' Carters said after scoring a match-winning century for NSW this week. ''If I got the opportunity, cricket was my childhood dream and I wanted to make it my No.1 priority.''
Carters is now juggling an economics, politics and philosophy degree at Sydney University with his cricket ambitions.
When he was at school in Canberra, he would train at Manuka Oval in his free periods before going back to Radford for more study.
The 23-year-old is making the most of his professional cricket second chance in Sydney on a rookie contract with the NSW Blues.
He has scored 409 runs, including a highest score of 154, in three matches and it has put him in contention for a berth at the Prime Minister's XI match at Manuka Oval on January 14. He also scored 94 against England in a tour match, which kick-started his spectacular run of form.
A spot in the PM's XI would be a perfect return to where his cricket dreams started in Canberra.
Carters also has dreams of playing for Australia and rising to the top, but for now he is concentrating on small steps and credits a narrowed focus with his change in fortunes.
Carters studied double maths, physics, chemistry and English at Radford College before winning the dux of year 12 award for his 99.95 admissions index score.
Not long after, he scored two centuries for the ACT under-19s team and was recruited by Victoria to join their full-time squad.
But he was starved of chances in Victoria, playing just 11 first-class matches in four years.
''Sport can be challenging when selection and form doesn't go how you'd like,'' Carters said.
''When you're outside the main team but training every day, it's challenging. Things didn't fall into place. For a period I was frustrated … I've played enough to know I won't be successful every morning. I'll fail more times than I succeed in terms of batting, so you have to build up a resilience.''
NSW bowling coach and 46-Test player Lawson rates Carters as one of Australia's brightest rising stars.
''If he keeps churning out hundreds, anything's possible for him,'' Lawson said.
''That's all you can ask in first-class cricket. He reminds me of [former Test batsmen John] Dyson.
''He's technically really good, understands his game and limitations, he has infinite patience. Carts' focus is just on the next game and if he plays well enough he'll be in consideration. But he can't look too far ahead.''
ACT cricket coach and Carters' former mentor Andrew Dawson declared the wicketkeeper-batsmen as the ''moneyball buy of the season''.
Carters played in the ACT under-19 teams with Test spinner Nathan Lyon and first-class cricketers Jason Behrendorff and Jason Floros.
''He could have had a career in politics if he wanted. He's no doubt the best moneyball investment of Australian cricket this year,'' Dawson said.
''He was so driven to want to do well in cricket that at times he was perhaps safety first, but now it's working for him.''
Carters has been working with Brad Haddin to improve his game.
''Brad always emphasises really focusing on the basics and the fact if you can trust in your basic technique and game plan that you bring, then you'll naturally be able to cope with the more difficult situations that you come across,'' Carters said.
''That's the greatest message he's given to me. What that means is working really hard on those basics. For keeping, that means a good solid technique and continually drilling it again and again.
''He just emphasises if you work hard at training, you will naturally develop a trust and confidence which will allow you to be mentally strong when you need to be.''