Former ACT u19 teammates face off in Sheffield Shield final

When the 2007-08 ACT under-19 team missed out on a single representative in the Australian under-19 World Cup squad, despite finishing second at the national titles, coach Andrew Dawson left them with three words of advice.

"Prove them wrong,'' Dawson said. 

"And I think a few have.''

Included in that side were Nathan Lyon, Ryan Carters and Jason Behrendorff. 

Lyon is Australia's premier spinner, Carters is the fourth-highest run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield this season and Behrendorff has taken 34 wickets at 22.5 to emerge as one of the most exciting fast-bowling prospects in the country.

But only one, or perhaps two, will leave Manuka Oval having won the most prestigious trophy in domestic cricket.


As was the case when all three were involved in a Canberra grade final a few years ago, NSW pair Lyon and Carters will be out to deny WA paceman Behrendorff when play begins on Friday.

If that match was anything to go by, this one will be a thriller.

Lyon was at the crease as Wests/UC scraped home by one-wicket against Tuggeranong.

All three have taken vastly different paths to arrive at this moment.

Lyon captained the ACT team at the national under-19 championships, fitting in training around his work as a curator at Manuka Oval.

An anecdote doing the rounds is one day he worked from 6am to 7pm at the ground before still finding the energy to roll his arm over in the nets for an hour after he knocked off.

"We used to train together a number of times per week,'' Carters said.

''There were times when I used to come down for a hit in the nets against Nathan when he'd be on his lunch break and I'd be on my lunch break from school.

''We did some really good team building days, one particular tough one climbing up Mount Ainslie with a lot of physical challenges along the way.

''There was definitely a strong group feel and work ethic.''

While Lyon's rise from South Australia to the Test team was sudden, Carters has steadily worked his way up after being on the fringe in Victoria.

He moved to NSW on a rookie contract in search of opportunity, nailing down the opening batting spot and scoring his maiden first-class century.

Apart from some minor technical changes, Carters attributes  most of his improvement to a more settled mental approach.

''I sought to be as present as possible for every ball I faced,'' Carters said.

''Cricket is more of a mental game than a physical game.

''If we can teach ourselves to be in the moment and not be distracted by the thoughts of the past or future, that gives us a better chance to perform our skills.''

Behrendorff was identified as a bowler with plenty of promise from a young age, working with fast bowling great Craig McDermott and former Australian bowling coach Troy Cooley when he was 15.

The 23-year-old made his first-class debut with WA in November, 2011, and burst on to the scene in the 2012-13 Big Bash League.

An off-season strength program has paid dividends this year, adding a yard of pace to already go with his ability to swing the ball back into the right-handers.

Behrendorff was a key factor in the Perth Scorchers winning the BBL, and took nine wickets in the match when WA beat NSW in the Sheffield Shield at the WACA Ground this season.

"What stood that collective group out was they were just good people and they worked their bums off,'' Dawson said.

"Obvioulsy they had talent and determination, and they wouldn't blame someone else if they stuffed up.

"They always kept on learning and always wanted to do things well, no matter how hard it was.''