Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Different Ball Game for Wales Star Jake

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Different Ball Game for Wales Star Jake

Article excerpt

IT IS not stretching the boundaries of sporting fantasy to suggest that Wales lock Jake Ball might have played cricket for Australia had he not loathed fielding so much.

But Australia's loss is Wales' gain, and Ball will run out against the Wallabies on Saturday for a rugby union Test match that he admits "means a lot to me."

During a previous sporting life, the bearded Scarlets forward struck fear into opposition batsmen on wickets renowned for their pace and bounce in Western Australia.

A teenage cricketing peer of Shaun and Mitchell Marsh and tutored by their father - former Australia Test opening batsman Geoff Marsh - seamer Ball's bowling was once clocked at 82mph. He describes his slinging action as "similar" to Mitchell Johnson, but "probably more Jeff Thomson."

Ascot-born Ball, whose father Dave is a North Walian who played number eight for London Welsh and Harlequins, emigrated to Australia with his family at the age of 16. And cricket was the sporting plan.

"I went out there to play cricket, and I did it for two years," Ball said.

"I was a fast bowler and I played alongside the Marsh boys. I miss the competitive edge of the bowling, but I hated standing in the field and I was a tail-end batsman as well, so I ended up spending a lot of time sitting around. …

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