For Orange City quick Brett Causer, his selection in the Central West Wranglers' squad for this summer's Cricket NSW Plan B Regional Bash campaign means a lot.
A hell of a lot.
The marquee Twenty20 competition pits NSW's regional sides against each other each summer, with the final four teams to play at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January.
The Wranglers kick-off their campaign this weekend with a game in Orange against Macquarie Valley-based Orana before heading to Wollongong for two more qualifying games.
Causer's been picked in the Wranglers' 14-man squad and the chance to stroll back onto the SCG's hallowed turf for the first time in 15 years would be something special, especially considering the winding road he's taken to get back on the field, full stop.
For someone who's been a broken-down wreck, it's touching to even be considered at that level again.Orange City quick Brett Causer
A gun quick in his youth, Causer grew up in Quandiallah, not far from Young, and played plenty of cricket with and against verified GOAT Nathan Lyon, playing in rep sides alongside the off-spinner and Cowra's Daniel Hughes and Mick Curtale.
He played against some ridiculous opposition while in NSW Country colours, too, bowling to Steve Smith and taking on Josh Hazlewood on the SCG as a teenager.
"I never got them out, but I've got Nathan Lyon out quite a few times ... but that's not something to brag about a huge amount," Causer said, tongue in cheek.
"As a young fella I loved it."
However, he was also a rising rugby league star and chose footy over cricket as an 18-year-old to do a stint at St George before injuring his back and neck, where things took a downward turn.
"I kind of spiralled into depression and was a bit of a wreck. I couldn't run for two or three years," he said.
It's an injury that still bothers him as does an arthritic condition which affects his whole body, although as an exercise physiologist he sees people with his condition often and knows how to manage it.
"Every game I play, I play through pain, but I just love it too much," he said.
"It's just a matter of how much pain you want to go through."
Despite being out of the game for a decade, Causer rolled into Orange City's camp a bit over two years ago with the aim to just play socially.
"I only started playing again to meet people," Causer said.
However, it didn't take long for him to climb into first grade, and not long after that Warriors skipper Ed Morrish was in his ear about trying to get him in a representative side.
Causer wanted to give it away at the end of last season but the resurgence of the Bathurst-Orange Inter-District Cricket competition made him pull on the whites once more, and Morrish got his wish too.
Not only did Causer line up for Orange in their Western Zone Premier League clash against Bathurst on Saturday, but the pair of them will play for the Wranglers this weekend.
"The selectors called me up last week and twisted my arm," Causer said.
Was there much twisting required?
"Not really," Causer laughed. "It was exciting to get the opportunity again.
"I was more excited to be considered.
"For someone who's been a broken-down wreck, it's touching to even be considered at that level again."
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He did try and knock the honour back, though, saying not only were there plenty of bowlers around the region who could fill the role he does, but he wanted to give someone else the chance to - potentially, should the Wranglers make it - run out onto the SCG.
"I said to the selectors I've been there and done it before, if you want to pick someone younger to have the opportunity go for it but it looks like they wanted a bit of experience," he said.
Causer admitted a lack of depth in Orange has been a big part of giving him a chance, with plenty of the current crop of juniors needing another few years under their belt.
I don't know what my role will be just yet, I could well be a cheerleader in Woolongong.Brett Causer
"There's plenty of young talent, ridiculous batters like Blake Weymouth and also (bowlers) Harry McGregor, Hugh Middleton, lots of players like that but there seems to be a generation gap between them and the 28 and 29-year-olds," he said.
But Causer said while he was more than happy to give his spot up, the chance to play on the SCG again was an alluring one, 15 years after his last run on the state's hallowed turf.
"It'd be nice," he said.
He also added the chance to play alongside Bathurst and Wranglers skipper Jameel Qureshi was a big drawcard, with the pair not having played in the same side since playing for Western Zone and NSW Country together when the pair were teenagers.
Qureshi will lead the side as he did last year, but Causer is none the wiser what he'll be doing across the three T20 clashes.
However, he's already shown himself to be in good form this season, especially in the shorter format, taking 2-8 from four miserly overs in the Warriors' Royal Hotel Cup opener against Centennials Bulls.
"I don't know what my role will be just yet, I could well be a cheerleader in Woolongong," Causer said laughing.
The Wranglers play Orana on Saturday morning from 9.30am, before taking on the South Coast Crew at the same time on Sunday at Willoughby Oval in Woolongong before clashing with the Illawarra Flames that afternoon.
And, should the squad get through as they did last summer, Causer will strut back onto the SCG on Australia Day for the first time in 15 years.
- CENTRAL WEST WRANGLERS: Jameel Qureshi, Adam Ryan, Jake Ekert, Ben Sheehan, Henry Shoemark, Brett Causer, Matt Corben, Ed Morrish, Wayne Sellers, Mitch Black, Mitch Taylor, Fletcher Rose, Connor Slattery, James Larkin.
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