Belmont’s Jesse Major is hoping to start this year on the same foot he finished last year.
The 25-year-old landscaper was one of 16 Newcastle first grade batsman to score an early Christmas present and notch up three figures in the three rounds directly before the mid-season break.
Major landed the biggest of the lot on December 9.
His match-winning and career-best 176 not out remains the largest individual tally of 2017-2018 despite the unbeaten 165 efforts of both Waratah-Mayfield’s Jonty Durrheim, in the first innings of the same game, and City’s Dylan Hunter.
It will take some beating over the next few months.
Jewells-based Major gives some of the credit from that knock and fresh mindset to good friend and Belmont teammate Ray Cooper, who convinced the club junior to return last summer after stints with Newcastle City, University and Charlestown since 2006-2007.
“It [Belmont] is a great club. I started off juniors down there and I’ve always been close to heading back most seasons I’d say,” Major said.
“It was a good move going back down there and I’m starting to enjoy my cricket again.”
Some of the credit from that dig he also passes onto Belmont skipper Mark Littlewood, who was down the other end of the pitch when Major raised his bat.
“He didn’t word it like this, but he pretty much said ‘well you’ve got a hundred but it pretty much means stuff all because you need to win us the game now’,” Major said.
“That made me knuckle down again and start again, whereas other hundreds I’ve got there and think my job’s done and you get out not long later. So it was good to have that experience of Splint [Littlewood] there at the other end.”
Now the right-hander, who has four previous top grade tons and next best for Belmont of 51 not out, feels poised to capitalise throughout the second half of the current campaign.
After three straight wins the boys in blue and gold, playing out of alternative venue Miller Field while main ground Cahill Oval is undergoing works, are now fifth on a congested ladder.
With five two-day matches remaining it puts Belmont, who were runaway leaders at the same stage 12 months ago, in the mix to make the top four and claim sought-after silverware that narrowly eluded last season’s minor premiers in all three finals of 2016-2017.
“It [the Christmas break] is a short turnaround, but it will be good to get back into it because we found a little bit of form,” Major said.
“It’s a little bit different to how we started last year where all the little things went our way. This year we’ve been on the other side of that.”