20 Questions: Cameron Borgas

 

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1: You came into the South Australian side in the 2000-01 summer, aged just 17, having come through all the age-group levels. Coming through all those development sides, how had they prepared you for the step up to professional cricket, and what was the junior infrastructure like in South Australia at the time?

Cameron Borgas: At the time I thought I was ready but in hindsight I probably wasn’t. The infrastructure was ok and 1st grade cricket was very competitive but realistically there weren’t enough 2nd XI matches to bridge the gap and I certainly hadn’t played enough at 17 to be ready to step up to Sheffield Shield cricket.

2: Your debut came at the WACA, against a team including names like Murray Goodwin, Jo Angel, Brendon Julian and Tom Moody. How imposing was it, stepping out onto the ground to face those kind of players?

Borgas: To be honest I didn’t feel too overawed by it at the time, I was just really excited to be playing at the WACA and representing my state with the likes of Lehmann and Blewett. I was struck on the foot a week before leaving for Perth and an exam revealed a hairline fracture in my foot. I spent the lead up on crutches and so the majority of the time leading up to the match I was just trying to get my foot right so I could play. 

3: Your own side had senior players like Darren Lehmann and Greg Blewett as you said; how important were players like that in helping you enter that environment at such a young age?

Borgas: They were great players and definitely made life easier by offering some good advice and welcoming me to the group.

4: You then had several summers out of the team. Obviously you were still very young during those years out, but having made your First Class debut, was it ever difficult being omitted for a full four years?

Borgas: Yes that was a very difficult period. I went through a phase where a lot of different coaches gave me a lot of different technical advice and it is just confused me and I ended up batting in a different way to my natural game. I still see a lot of young players go through the same situation, which is frustrating. In the end the best thing I did was go over to England to have a season as an overseas professional in the Middlesex Premier League with Wembley Cricket Club in 2003. Getting away and being independent and working out my own game myself was invaluable and by the time I came back to Australia I felt like I had my game in order.

5: When you returned, at the back end of the 2004-05 summer, you slotted into a very different SA side, but made a 50 ground out over three hours in your return match – which helped lead the side to a victory over Tasmania. That must have been a performance you were very proud of?

Borgas: I worked very hard to get back into the team and I was very determined to make it count. It was great to be part of a win and to contribute was great.

6: 2005-06 was a good season for you in four-day cricket, making two centuries and averaging just under 40; but you failed to translate that form to the one-dayers. You must have been pleased with your First Class performances, but conversely, what was behind your issues in one-day cricket?

Borgas: I had really based my batting around being very hard to get out and playing high percentage cricket, with the main priority batting number three in the Sheffield Shield. This meant I had a relatively limited game in the shorter forms and while I managed to get plenty of starts I failed to capitalise because I didn’t have much power or a big range of shots to up the ante at that stage of my career.

7: You had somewhat mixed results over the following seasons, before everything really clicked in 2009-10, following an off-season in Scotland (including playing for the Scottish side in the Friends Provident Trophy). How much did that experience of playing in the UK help your development as a batsman?

Borgas: An unfortunate injury fielding in late 2006 required a shoulder reconstruction and this resulted in missing over half the 2006/07 season. When I came back in 2007/08 I made three ducks in the first week of the season and was consequently dropped and struggled to get back into the team for the rest of the season. I felt like I had gone from having some really good momentum, making runs as a 23 year-old batting first drop for his State to missing the best part of two seasons. I knew I needed to catch up on this lost time and I again returned to England. I played the 2008 season in Yorkshire and the 2009 in Scotland. On the back of two successful seasons in the UK I was back making runs quite consistently for the Redbacks. Playing against the counties in particular was a great experience and performing well gave me a lot of confidence.

8: 2009-10 saw you make over 500 FC runs at 42, and 339 List A runs at 37.66. Why do you think things clicked to the degree they did that summer?

Borgas: It was really a culmination of playing two years straight of good cricket. I had built up some good momentum with my batting and felt comfortable with my game.

9: Also during that season, you made your highest First Class score – 164 not-out against Queensland, in your first game of the summer. You followed it up with a quick 32 not-out in the second innings when the team was looking for a declaration. That must be a performance you remain very proud of?

Borgas: I remember being in a real purple patch of form around that match, but only got a game because Mark Cosgrove was injured. It was the third time I had made a hundred in a comeback match after having previously been dropped which was very satisfying.

10: Of course, you played just three more games, in 2010-11, and haven’t played First Class cricket since. Were you disappointed to be dropped, and how do you feel about the way your FC career ended?

Borgas: Yes and no. You’re always disappointed to be dropped and at 27 I felt like I still had plenty more to give, however I had also been given plenty of opportunities and had not made as many runs as I would have liked. Mentally, I found First Class cricket very challenging and especially frustrating playing in a side that was regularly being beaten quite easily. Around this time the Big Bash starting taking off and we were playing some great t20 cricket, winning most of our matches in front of sell-out crowds and I remember thinking ‘this is a whole lot better than getting beaten up for four days in an empty stadium’. Being such a competitive person, I loved the fact we actually had a decent chance of winning every match we played in and the atmosphere was just incredible. So I guess I wasn’t as disappointed because t20 cricket had captured my imagination and I found it more enjoyable and exciting to play and was loving the fact that we were winning.

11: The following summer, you were part of the South Australia team that broke SA’s one-day title drought, following that amazing final against Tasmania. That must have been an amazing experience?

Borgas: Yes, that was an amazing match. The self-belief of the lads to hang in when it seemed like the game was gone was outstanding. The euphoric feeling winning off the last ball was something I’ll never forget.

12: In 2012, you played in (and for) the Netherlands. Was that an experience that you enjoyed, and how did it compare to your time in Scotland?

Borgas: It was a very unique experience living and playing in the Netherlands. I absolutely loved playing for the Dutch national team and we had some good success against the counties. The local cricket was a bit frustrating as the majority of the pitches were mats over a clay base which were slow, low and not conducive to great cricket. But the life experience was great and seeing a new culture and riding a bike everywhere was a lot of fun. I was very lucky to play for both Scotland and the Netherlands as it provided some good professional cricket as well as the club cricket and met some great people along the way.

13: T20 cricket is where you really took off around that time; having played in two Champions League tournaments in two different locations, how did they compare, and are you disappointed to see the tournament is likely to disappear from the schedule?

Borgas: They were amazing experiences. The first one in South Africa in particular was probably the most enjoyable cricket experience of my life. As a group who had been through a lot of tough times together we took on the world’s best and won every match until the semi-final. The Indian tournament was also a great experience but finished in a shattering loss where Bangalore chased down about 215 and hit a six off the last ball to win. It is disappointing that it is gone, maybe it will come back in another format down the track.

14: The second time you made the Champions League, it was after that remarkable Big Bash final, where you were named man of the match. Do you look back on that performance as your best in professional cricket, given it was in a grand final and in front of such a huge audience (both at the ground, and watching on television)?

Borgas: Yes, I think it probably was. I remember being as focused and well prepared as I had ever been in the lead up and as a team we played almost the perfect match. I’m a very proud and passionate South Australian and to hit the winning runs in front of a packed Adelaide Oval after a 16 drought was about as good as it gets.

15: In 2012, you were signed for the Sri Lankan Premier League. You had a reasonable, if not spectacular, tournament, and got to play alongside players like Rangana Herath and Tillakaratne Dilshan. What was that competition like, and what are your memories of it?

Borgas: I really enjoyed my time in Sri Lanka and personally did ok. Unfortunately as a team we didn’t really nail it and that was disappointing but overall it was a great experience and a lot of fun.

16: Then, for the 2012-13 summer, you were signed for both the HRV Cup in New Zealand, and the Bangladesh Premier League. In New Zealand, you helped guide Wellington to the final, including making an important semi-final contribution, but ended up getting a working over from Jacob Duffy in the final. Did your signing with Wellington come about simply because of Jamie Siddons being Wellington coach, and what was it like playing across the ditch?

Borgas: Both were great experiences. The Wellington opportunity came about because of Jamie Siddons and Shane Deitz, who was the assistant coach at the Firebirds. Unfortunately we lost the final but it was great to see them win last year. Bangladesh was a bit of an eye opener but good fun.

17: And then with Bangladesh – what was it like over there, in terms of the facilities and hospitality, as well as the standard of cricket?

Borgas: We were looked after pretty well but the facilities and hotels are probably not quite the standard that we get in Australia. The cricket was a good challenge, especially batting against spin.

18: In 2013-14, you played two games for the Strikers, and didn’t play last season. Looking forward, do you hope to return to the T20 fold, and what are you aims for the future?

Borgas: I played two matches for the Sydney Thunder in 2013/14 and have since prioritised work and coaching. I played in Adelaide in 2014/15 but have since retired from playing.

19: Outside of cricket, you’ve been involved in coaching in various areas, as well as being involved with the ACA. How much have you enjoyed that, and is it something that you hope to pursue further in the future?

Borgas: I have really enjoyed coaching and am currently coaching Adelaide University Cricket Club and helping out some of the Emerging Redbacks players.

20: In terms of Australian cricket, what are your views on how the Sheffield Shield has changed since your early days as a player, and what impact as the BBL had on Australian cricket?

Borgas: Whilst most will deny it, there is no doubt the Sheffield Shield is no longer the priority it once was. The Big Bash is a wonderfully exciting competition and is where most young cricketers are aiming to play in the future. Whilst in some respects this is a bit of shame, the evolution of cricket was inevitable and t20 is a great product that is keeping cricket relevant with generation Y and Z.


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