‘IN THE SHADOW OF WARNIE……..’

There’s nothing like the emergence of ‘another Warnie’ to get the heart-beat of the average cricket fan racing…….

Even Kerry O’Keeffe, an old leggie of repute, tweeted excitedly a couple of weeks ago: ‘….There’s white smoke coming from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel……cricket has a new Pope…..Lloyd Pope…..a Jaffa-headed 18 year-old leg spinner from Adelaide…….just took 8 wickets to beat England in an Under 19 World Cup quarter-Final….and his wrong-un accounted for six of them !…….’

Josh Mangan felt a sense of déjà vu when he read this news.  Fourteen years ago it was he who was  being lauded as a possible successor to the ‘Sheik of Tweak’. He had bowled superbly in successive National Carnivals and acquitted himself well at the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh.

The considered opinion was that, at youth level, he was the best leg-spinner in Australia…………..

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“He loves a chat; he’ll talk to you all day,” says Jon Shaw when I mention about doing a story on his old team-mate.  And yes, he seems the same chirpy, happy-go-lucky lad that he was when I first spotted him as a WDCA debutant.

‘Shawy’ had not long arrived in Rutherglen, hoping to broaden his cricket experience, and escape another English winter, when he came across Josh Mangan.

“I’ve seen two kids in my life, at that age (11-12 years old ), and before any ‘proper’ coaches have got hold of them, who you could confidently predict: ‘That person will play professional cricket,’ he says.

“Josh and the English Test player Samit Patel had the God-given talent, the passion for the game and the willingness to train hard.”

“Josh would train twice a day down at the Rutherglen nets. Once in the morning before it got too hot, then, again in the evening when it was a bit cooler. That was beside all of the other team and rep training he had to do.”

“He used to bowl blindfolded at one stump sometimes, and very regularly bowl a ripping leg break that would hit the single stump.”

“The Rutherglen selectors felt that he was too small for men’s cricket, and that he wasn’t physically ready for C-Grade. I said: ‘Well, that’s great. If you don’t want him in C-Grade, I’ll take him in A-Grade.’  He was 13……..“

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Josh reckons he was lucky that ‘Shawy’  arrived in Rutherglen at just the right time.  “He helped to impress upon me how the cricket system operates……how, if you keep getting wickets, you can go from being a 12 year-old at Rutherglen and work your way through the grades. He invested a lot of time into me, that’s for sure……………”

He was slightly-built, confident and a popular team member and was, in no time, being ushered through cricket’s Pathway program.

The story goes that his dad Chris – a musician – would often take Josh to gigs that he was playing at…..and he would happily jump up on stage and sing along with the band. He became a dab hand at the piano, and loved drawing and sketching.

In short, he was multi-talented. His parents, he says, didn’t have much of a cricket background. “But they were super-supportive of me.”

Rob Worthington, one of those who came into contact with him in rep cricket along the way, recalls someone who was perpetually active: “Whilst the other kids were sitting down watching the team batting, Josh would be twirling a cricket ball around, with those long fingers of his……or  sketching his team-mates.”

“He was an excellent bowler in Junior ranks, of course, but also had a solid batting technique. You could see that he had something special.”

He rose through the North-East Knights, represented Victoria’s Under 17 team and took a total of 47 wickets in three Under-19 Carnivals, overtaking a record held by Matthew Innes.

This led to Australian Under-19 selection.  It was heady stuff indeed, for the lad, who seemed destined for the top – with a bullet.

He moved to the city to begin an Architecture Degree at Melbourne University, and landed in Melbourne’s First XI team, aged 17.. His performances in 64 First XI games in four seasons were hardly spectacular, but sufficient to attract the attention of the State selectors, who rewarded him with a Rookie contract in 2005. His apprenticeship included 8 or 9 games with the Victorian Second XI.

“I was looking forward to getting a game for the Bushrangers, but the reality was that I had ‘Warnie’, Cameron White, Bryce McGain (who was still going around) and John Holland ahead of me in the queue,” Josh says.

“Then West Australia approached me with the offer of a Rookie Contract. Their leggie, Beau Casson was leaving the West to play with New South Wales, so I thought it was a great opportunity.”

He was just 20, and was still recovering from a knee injury, when he made the move for the 2006/07 season; also transferring his Architecture course to the University of W.A.

“I was fortunate to join the University club, and come under the influence of some terrific people. Neil ‘Noddy’ Holder, a batting guru, was, and still is, a great mentor. As was Martin Tobin, who was the coach at the U.C.C.”

In his first season in the WACA, Josh took 27 wickets and scored 177 runs ; in the second, his contribution was an impressive 39 wickets and 561 runs. He was surely nearing that elusive first-class appearance.

In the winter of 2008, he headed to England to re-join his old Rutherglen mate, Jon Shaw, playing with Kimberley, in the Notts Premier League, as the senior professional.  It was a dream season. His 950 runs and 47 wickets was a major factor in the club’s successful season, although the League title was just out of reach.

His match figures of 56.3 overs, 7/156, and 100* for the WA Second XI against ACT brought him to the attention of the State selectors.

In late 2008, they named him  for the Sheffield Shield clash against Victoria, at the MCG.  Despite a limited spell at the bowling crease, promising knocks of 24 and 10 whetted his appetite.

He made two further Shield appearances, with limited success that season, followed by half a dozen games during a brief spell at the AIS, in the winter of 2009.

It was generally felt that the slightly-built all-rounder was still a work in progress.

“It’s about being patient,” he said at the time, as he prepared for a vital Shield encounter with NSW. “Being exposed to State cricket last year helped me realise that success at that level is more than just turning up and landing the ball in the right spot.”

‘Spin Hopefuls To Show Wares’ was the newspaper heading, previewing the spin-off between the two emerging stars on display – NSW’s third-gamer Steven Smith, and the WA tyro, Mangan.

In a match affected by weather, Smith sent down 34 overs, for figures of 3/164; Mangan’s 21 overs netted him 1/80, including the wicket of left-hand opener Phil Jacques.

What Josh Mangan needed to progress his career, was a healthy slice of luck. Unfortunately, it had begun to abandon him, as he’d already received cortisone injections for a nagging shoulder injury and a degenerative wrist complaint.

He underwent surgery a couple of months later, for a damaged rotator cuff, had some bone shaved out of his shoulder, and some floating bone removed from his wrist.

The State selectors elected not to renew his contract the following season, despite his determination to fight his way back into the side.

His First-Class career was over, and his spells at the bowling crease became less and less frequent.

Josh continued to pile up the performances in WA Grade cricket. His eight seasons and 141 games with University yielded 3922 runs, 4 tons, 166 wickets and included a stint as captain. He ranks in Uni’s Top-10 for runs scored and wickets taken, and has the most catches in UCC First XI history, as a fielder.

He spent two years with another WACA club, Willeton, accumulating  534 runs and a century, before stepping down this season to play with Wembley Districts, in the WA Suburban Turf competition.

He’s scored 340 runs to date, and is still hitting the ball well. “It reminds me a bit of English club cricket. I’m playing with a lot of good mates and enjoying it thoroughly,” he said.

Josh no doubt rues that right shoulder that started to play up a few years ago and helped to cut short a promising Shield career, but he hasn’t given up on the game he loves……………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” HE’S DONE ALRIGHT FOR A POM …………! “

Jon Shaw clearly remembers the first delivery he received in club cricket on Australian soil.

It was quick and explosive, rearing off a good length and heading for his throat. He swayed back and the Kookaburra seemed to follow him, whistling past his helmet grill as it sailed through to the ‘keeper.

The bowler snorted from mid-pitch : ” You better learn to handle the short stuff, mate. If you were that good, you wouldn’t be playing here ! “………….

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This was a world away from the English county of Nottinghamshire – where he had been reared.

His original idea of escaping another bleak English winter and broadening his cricket experience, had led him to Geelong. It was early October 1998; footy finals had just wound up, the rain had hardly stopped pelting down since he’d got there – and the job he had been promised through a local club still hadn’t materialised.

“Where’s the hot sun and the laid-back lifestyle that people rave about ? ” he wondered to himself.

After yet another cricket wash-out, Jon accepted an invitation, to spend a week-end in Rutherglen. The gregariousness of the locals impressed him, as did the warm weather and the ‘feel’ of the rustic old town.

So when they said they’d tee up a job for him and plonk him in their cricket side the next Saturday, they didn’t need to twist his arm.

That’s when he was ‘sat in his arse’ and received some ‘advice’ from the fiery paceman……..

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“I settled in straight away,” he tells me. “They were a good lot of fellahs and we got on well. One of our watering-holes was the Star Hotel. I glanced across the bar on one of the first nights I was there and caught the attention of a young girl. Three weeks later we became an item. It was Belinda, my future wife”

Jon enjoyed life in Rutherglen so much, he kept returning. Eventually, it became home, and he and Belinda and their two kids, William and Charlie are now firmly ensconced. Over the last sixteen years he has established a reputation as one of the greats of local sport……….

But let me take you back to the small town of Kimberley – population 6,500 – based about six miles from Nottingham.

It’s Nottingham Forest territory. Like most young kids in the area, Jon harboured dreams of one day running out in the Red and White strip of the famous old club which, in its most illustrious era, soared to European Cup triumphs in 1979 and ’80.

He was pre-occupied by soccer and cricket and showed promise as a goal-keeper with nearby Mansfield Town. But his thoughts of big-time future glory at the goal-front were bluntly scuttled by a realistic coach, who told him: ” If you’re not 6 foot tall when you turn 18, you’ll be wasting your time.”

No matter, his cricket talents were coming to the fore, as he moved through the ranks with Kimberley Institute, a leading club in the county.

He was firmly established as a leading all-rounder in the Notts Premier Leagueimg_2399 when he began the first of his forays to Australia. The concept of playing continuously certainly did his form no harm.

When he returned home for the 1999 season, his 49 wickets and 447 runs for Kimberley earned him selection for the Notts Cricket Board in a Nat-West Trophy game against Scotland.

During the succeeding three years he played a number of games for Herefordshire in the Minor Counties Championship.

But it was for his ‘home club’ Kimberley, that Jon continued to make an impact. When he made his last appearance with them – in 2009 – he had played 260 League and 82 Cup matches, taken 655 wickets and scored 6492 runs.

It’s a pretty handy standard, and the addition of overseas pro’s adds to the quality of the competition. Andre Adams, the New Zealand medium-pacer had a bit of success with Kimberley in the early 2000’s. Jon’s former Rutherglen team-mate and ex-Shield leggie, Josh Mangan, took the job on in 2008.

With the 5’9″ Shaw bowling at a brisk medium-pace and making plenty of runs in the upper order, he made an immediate impression on cricket in the North-East. img_2397What won people over was his enthusiasm for the game. Thus, when Country Week, or representative games came around, he was always among the first selected.

In his five trips to Melbourne Country Week, he has been awarded the ‘John Welch Award’, as the Best-Performed player three times.

His most memorable performance in the ‘big-smoke’ came in 2000, in a riveting match against Kyabram. Wangaratta scrapped their way to a hardly-defendable 8/139 and, with 3 overs remaining, Ky were cruising, at 3/121.

They finished eight runs short, at 8/131, with the work-horse Shaw tightening the screws, and finishing with 7/40.

He has performed at a consistent level in WDCA cricket over the years, twice winning the competition’s ‘Cricketer of the Year’ gong and finishing runner-up three times.

What’s surprising is the lack of premiership success that he has come his way, which means that he can look back on the 2001/02 season with some satisfaction.

Besides playing with Rutherglen, Jon had been making regular appearances with Springhurst in the Wangaratta Sunday Association. In a thrilling climax to the season, they clinched only their second WSCA flag, after scoring 3/151 and holding off a gallant Moyhu, who were 8/149 at the completion of their overs.

To complement this, he shared in the WSCA’s Division One title win at Bendigo Country Week, a month earlier, when they lost just four wickets in passing Kyabram’s 183. His 18 wickets and 138 runs had been a contributing factor in the successful week.

When he had finished criss-crossing the globe to play cricket, and he and Belinda finally called Rutherglen home, Jon had a few seasons with Wangaratta City Soccer Club.

In his seven years with City he spent two as playing-coach and a couple as co-coach. He reverted to his role as Goal-Keeper for much of that time, but also played as a striker for three years.

The club’s crowning moment came in 2015 when they broke a 20-year drought to win the AWFA League Cup, downing traditional rivals Myrtleford in a nail-biter.img_2400

As captain – and the competition’s leading Goal-keeper – Jon played a vital role in the victory.

He was approached by fledgling National Premier League (Division 2) outfit, Murray United, when they started up, but a dislocated shoulder forced him out of the game last season. He has taken on the position as Goal-keeping coach for the 2017 season.

Considering that Kimberley was Jon’s only club throughout his cricket career in England, he jokes that he’s become somewhat of a journeyman in Australia.

After a lengthy stint at Rutherglen he crossed the Murray River to join arch WDCA rivals Corowa for two seasons, mainly to link up with a good mate, Rod Lane.

His next move was to Albury club St.Patricks, as he was eager to experience the slightly higher standard and different culture and conditions of Cricket Albury-Wodonga.

Now he’s domiciled at the W.J.Findlay Oval, as playing-coach of Rovers-United-Bruck. His ambition, naturally, is to take last season’s Grand Finalists to the top – and so snare his first WDCA flag.

He has managed to combine his cricket with a couple of Half-Ironman events this season. But there seems no indication of a heavy sporting schedule taking its toll on the  frame of the 36 year-old, who looks trimmer than ever

Yes, he’s done alright for a Pom, has Jon Shaw……

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