Spirit of Cricket - Alyssa Healy & Ollie Davies
"Every interaction that you have with a young girl or boy is important. Take the time to talk to people or sign an autograph . . . because you don’t know what sort of impact that has."
Elite cricketers have the power to ignite the imaginations of young fans to try to emulate their feats on the field or, at the very least, to become lifelong fans of a great sport.
That’s why the players who represent NSW, Sydney Thunder or the Sydney Sixers appreciate the importance of interacting with their fans.
Sydney Sixers and Australia star Alyssa Healy vividly remembers the disappointment she felt as a seven-year-old who was snubbed by a superstar player when she asked for his autograph.
“I asked for an autograph and he said ‘no’,” she recalled.
“It’s that they said ‘no’ is what you remember. When [a fan] has their photograph taken [with a player] they feel connected to them, and [if it’s me] they’re then suddenly connected with the NSW Breakers, the Sixers, and Australian teams.
“However, if you turn around and say: ‘no, I’m too busy and don’t have time for that’ they’ll remember that and any connection is lost. Making the time to talk to people, and making that connection is super important.”
Sydney Thunder’s Ollie Davies said meeting Shaun Marsh – who became Davies’s idol when he scored 141 not out in his 2011 Test debut – remains one of his childhood’s fondest memories.
“I remember thinking he was a freak,” said Davies, who struck five consecutive sixes in his second BBL match. “When he played in a one-day match at Drummoyne Oval I was too nervous to ask for Shaun’s autograph.
“My Mum asked Justin Langer if it was possible – and he came over signed it, took a photo and we chatted. He was an absolute legend, and I was in awe of him.
“I posted the photo on Instagram and he commented on it saying, ‘great photo, mate’, and then he gave me a ‘follow’ on Instagram and we kept in touch.”
During BBL10 Marsh saw for himself the positive imact he'd had on Davies, when 10-years after posing for a photo and offering a few words of encouragement - they played against each other in the nation's elite T20 competition.