Young American gets first taste of playing organised Aussie cricket

Many young Aussies hold the same dream of one day putting on the baggy green for Australia, but for Ian Haigh, to just play cricket has been his dream.

Born in South Dakota, USA he finally had the opportunity to live out that dream taking to the pitch for Pitt Town Cricket Club in the Under 11's this past Saturday, October 17.

In the sheds: Ian Haigh with Australian Cricket Player Usman Khawaja. Picture: Supplied.

In the sheds: Ian Haigh with Australian Cricket Player Usman Khawaja. Picture: Supplied.

Growing up in Wisconsin, Ian first gained an interest in cricket when he was around five-years-old after returning from a holiday in Australia.

His Australian father, David, said his son's interest in the sport grew from watching it on the sole US cricket channel, playing backyard cricket and going to see some games live.

"It was interesting liking the sport in the US because he tried to teach a lot of his friends and he struggled," said David. "They just didn't get it.

"So, I spent a lot of time playing cricket with him in the backyard.

"When he came back to Australia, which we did about once a year for Christmas holidays, he'd play with his cousins everyday, every minute he could get."

Ian is a dual Australian/US Citizen and while living in the US, despite the time differences, has loved watching the Australian tests live.

"I was always watching the Australians play and I guess that kinda just became ingrained in him," said David.

Ian and David had the opportunity to travel to England for the Cricket World Cup in 2019, and were coincidentally staying in the same hotel as the Australian Cricket Team.

"Last year we met the Australian team which added to Ian's love of cricket and love of the Australian team," said David.

"He was awestruck. I don't think he understands that most people don't get to meet the Australian cricket team, or the fact that he got to spend time with them as well.

"[Australian coach] Justin Langer and [bowler] Nathan Lyon hung-out with us and talked with us. The guys were very polite and Lyon went back to his room and got a hat to sign for Ian."

The duo were lucky enough to be invited to the sheds at an upcoming match at Lords Cricket Ground.

In the sheds, Ian didn't only receive Dave Warner's signed game batting gloves, but he also got to spend time with his favourite player, Steve Smith, who nicknamed him "Dakota Boy".

"I think he understands to a degree how big that was," said David.

"But it was the dressing room at Lords, I don't think he understands the enormity of that. I think he might be starting to realise it talking to his friends at school."

Harsh conditions: Ian playing cricket while it snows in his Wisconsin driveway. Picture: Supplied.

Harsh conditions: Ian playing cricket while it snows in his Wisconsin driveway. Picture: Supplied.

A fan of both batting and bowling, David said that Ian had to be creative to play in the harsh and cold climate of Wisconsin.

"It was very cold. There was often a blue sky, but I'd have to remind Ian that it was probably not good to go out there," he said. "But he'd be out there, sometimes dressed in gloves and full coat, you name it. Snow and ice everywhere.

"I had to go dig and shovel out the driveway. Put salt down just to get all the ice off the drive way, so we could safely play cricket out on the driveway and so we could have a bowl and a bat.

"He could bowl by himself, but for batting he needed someone to bowl to him. He likes to bat but he is more of a bowler. He's probably closer to an all rounder."

David, who grew up in Box hill and has family that still lives locally, said he had been contemplating coming back to Australia and when it worked for his career and family, he made the move.

"A little bit of me was like it will give Ian a chance, he loves cricket so much and there is nothing really in America for him with cricket," he said.

"It worked out perfectly for his dream because under 10's is the lowest age that you can start at ... though he is playing up in under 11's right now. It just worked out perfectly for him."

Ian played his first cricket match this past Saturday and David said he had "never seen him happier".

Kitted up: Ian in his gear ready for his first match with Pitt Town Cricket Club. Picture: Supplied.

Kitted up: Ian in his gear ready for his first match with Pitt Town Cricket Club. Picture: Supplied.

"Ian was absolutely thrilled," he said. "He couldn't stop talking about it.

"Bowling wise he got a wicket maiden for his first over ... and a couple of comments form the other kids was 'wow he can bowl fast'.

"Then batting wise he got not out for 11."

After just one game Ian has been invited to join the developmental Squad for the Hawkesbury District Under 11's.

"It's all been a dream come true for him," said David.

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