BUBBA GOES HOME ? BRENDAN NASH?S JOURNEY BACK TO THE GABBA
When the West Indies last toured Australia ? in 2005 ? Brendan Nash turned out for the land of his birth as an emergency fielder at the Gabba in Brisbane. At that time, he must have felt it was one step closer to his childhood dream of representing his native Australia. Then he was an up-and-coming batting all rounder and dynamo fielder with the Queensland Bulls.
Since then, the script has been flipped. When the First Test opens on November 26th ? also at the Gabba ? Nash will not emerge from the tunnel under a Baggy Green. He will instead leave what must be the most unfamiliar environs of the opposition dressing room – at a ground which he called home for many a season – wearing the West Indian maroon Test cap he earned in New Zealand a year ago.
After losing his Bulls contract at the end of the 2007 season, Nash?s journey to the international stage has been unconventional and at variance with that dream of representing Australia.
As his father, Paul ? domiciled in Australia for the past 30 years ? is Jamaican, Brendan qualified to represent the Caribbean country and thus made the move from Queensland to Kingston in 2007. It is now history that he gave an excellent account of himself in the Jamaican trials and held down a spot in the national side?s middle order.
History too it is that he had a commendable first season with the bat in Jamaican colours and displayed admirable professionalism on and off the field. It led, most naturally, to him being drafted into the West Indies side.
Ever since, he has been working on cementing his place and doing his bit to bolster the middle order with his stoic left handed batting.
So far he has appeared in 18 matches ? an equal number of Tests and ODIs. He has been making steady strides in the longest format ? scoring four half centuries and a maiden ton against England earlier this year at the Queens Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago.
His Test average is just under 40 and one he will be eager to push over that benchmark in the upcoming three Tests – the last of which will be played in Perth – where he was born back in 1977 to an Australian mom.
But before he gets to Western Australia, he must survive the Gabba and the Adelaide Oval. On the first morning of the Test, Nash, known to his former Queensland teammates as ?Bubba?, will walk out onto the Gabba outfield in the unfamiliar role of both home boy and opposition.
“It will be a little bit strange but I guess I’ve played there quite a bit,” Nash said in his usual reserved manner when questioned about the unique circumstances.
But he noted that there will be advantages for his adopted team.
“I know the conditions and can pass that information on to my team-mates.”
The Windies side – reconvened and rejuvenated – will certainly benefit from Nash?s years of experience playing in Australia and his familiarity with the Gabba. He will know though that it will not be a free pass from opposition or fans who once applauded his every success. They may reserve one last warm round of applause for him as he walks onto the field but when he arrives at the crease the reception from the bowlers will be no less than hostile. Nash may be in West Indian colours but he is still Australian born and bred and the Aussie players will not be strangers to this fact.
Mitchell Johnson, the fiery left arm fast bowler, with whom he once shared a house when the two were Bulls teammates, will be gunning for him. Johnson is now de facto spearhead of the Australian attack and Nash will know not to expect any ?blighs? (a slang term for ?free pass? he would have picked up during his time in Jamaica).
“I’d like to think he is going to try to get me out more than anything,” was Nash?s considered assessment.
“I’m sure there is going to be a fair bit of that sort of stuff. It’s going to be a huge challenge for not only myself, but the whole team,” was Nash?s forthright appraisal.
Nash is smart enough to know that his returned to Queensland will not be a warm homecoming.