REDBACK BITES: Joe Mennie tests Victoria in the Sheffield Shield match at the MCG on Monday and, left, celebrates taking a Bushrangers wicket. – Pictures by Getty Images
JOE Mennie’s time with Newcastle grade cricket club Western Suburbs was brief but his stint at Harker Oval was a springboard for his Sheffield Shield success.
The former Nelson Bay resident has made an impressive start to his first-class career this summer with South Australia, taking 20 wickets at an average of 25.80 runs in five matches.
This week the right-arm fast-medium bowler took his second quintuple-wicket haul when he claimed 5-42 off 21.1 overs against Victoria in the Redbacks’ loss at the MCG.
The performance followed the 23-year-old’s 7-96 off 29.4 overs against Western Australia at the WACA Ground in December.
Mennie spent the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons at the Rosellas and the 15-year-old all-rounder was already tipped for higher honours.
‘‘I enjoyed my cricket at Wests. It was a great club at that stage,’’ Mennie said.
‘‘I have great memories of Newcastle. My cricket probably flourished in Newcastle.
‘‘Newcastle has produced an array of players over time and it’s a top competition, so it did my cricket a world of good.’’
After moving back to his home town of Coffs Harbour at 17, Mennie broke into the NSW Country Colts team then joined Sydney grade club Western Suburbs.
In 2010, he was selected for the NSW Second XI but sensing a lack of opportunities at the Blues he moved to South Australia last winter to join club side Adelaide University. ‘‘I was a bit unsure when I made the decision but now it’s been a wonderful move and I’m really enjoying Adelaide,’’ Mennie said.
‘‘I was looking for an opportunity and it was a bit difficult in NSW with the huge amount of players and the high calibre of players.’’
During his teenage years at Wests the 190-centimetre-tall seamer was predominantly a batsman.
‘‘I developed a lot later body wise,’’ he said.
‘‘When I was younger I opened the batting and was seen as a batsman.
‘‘I did bowl a little bit but I was only young and small at that stage. In the last few years I’ve grown bigger and the ball is coming out a lot quicker now.
‘‘My bowling has moved on leaps and bounds.’’
The Adelaide Oval is known as one of the most placid first-class wickets in Australia with its short square of the wicket boundaries ideal for horizontal shot-making.
The Redbacks are winless in the Sheffield Shield this season.
But Mennie said the experience was beneficial for his long-term development.
‘‘It helps learning your game immensely,’’ he said.
‘‘If you can bowl good on the Adelaide Oval, you are generally going to bowl well at most places.’’