JOSH Bennett never thought of making a career out of cricket.
The former Orange City quick never thought the kind of opportunities would ever present themselves.
But 22 wickets at an average just over 13 at an Australian Country Cricket Championship for a champion Bush Blues outfit will open a lot of doors, as Bennett has found out since tearing through the best country cricketers Australia has to offer in January.
Couple that with the NSW Country Cricketer of the Year award Bennett received this week, and the opportunities have come flying in to the 23-year-old faster than some of the deliveries that netted him wickets at Bundaberg.
Fresh off the announcement of his latest honour in a stellar 2012-13 summer thus far, Bennett is weighing up the chance to play Sydney Grade Cricket with club sides University of NSW and Randwick-Petersham or a move to the ACT.
Bennett debuted with the ACT Comets in the Futures League two weeks ago, taking 4-35 off 12 overs.
And the opportunities to take cricket further might not end there.
“The NSW state talent manager has been on the phone to me and he is keen for me to stay in NSW,” Bennett said, with a few conversations with another former Orange cricketer also leaning Bennett towards staying in NSW.
“I’ve spoken to (NSW Blues bowler) Chris Tremain a little bit. He goes back and plays with UNSW a bit.”
Bennett has been blown away by the summer of his life.
“It’s just been amazing. I’ve been able to bowl pretty well this season, now I’m off to a biology lecture and it seems pretty dull,” he laughed.
“This rep season has opened a lot of doors for me next year.”
A Western Zone product, now an integral member of University in the strong Newcastle District Cricket Association, Bennett will finish his bachelor of science and bachelor of teaching degree in August.
A decision on where he’ll play in 2013-14 is expected at the end of this season.
Admitting to “not being much chop” when he was running around in the Orange District Cricket Association as a skinny teenager, Bennett’s body has now matured and so has his bowling.
But Bennett isn’t entirely sure just what it is that’s seen him go to the next level.
“The quality of cricket is obviously pretty good (in Newcastle) and the training is better. My body has developed a lot as well,” he added.
Although not mentioned by Bennett, a work ethic like few others might be another reason the gifted quick is turning heads.
“I always thought... a lot of my friends stopped playing cricket but in my first year (at Newcastle) I was told I could have a future in cricket and I’ve just worked hard since then,” Bennett said.
Bennett will receive his NSW Country Cricketer of the Year gong at a NSW Cricket dinner in August.