Nine thousand, three hundred and forty two miles.
That’s the distance between Finch Hill Cricket Club’s Ballafletcher pitch and the Ray Finlayson Sporting Complex in West Lamington, Western Australia.
It’s fair to say it’s not the most trodden of paths, but nevertheless it’s a journey Finches’ talisman George Burrows made back in October.
The Isle of Man cap is now midway through his first season at Lake View Cricket Club after the Australian outfit spotted his impressive stats while trawling the internet for new players.
The 19-year-old from Douglas scored 2,463 runs during the Manx summer at an average of nearly 80 as he built on his burgeoning reputation as one of the island’s finest batsmen.
Opener Burrows admits trepidation when a move to the other side of the world was first mooted, but is now beginning to settle in the remote mining town 370 miles east-northeast of Perth: ’Being so far from home is weird, but I’m starting to get used to it. I’ve got a routine where I can FaceTime home at good times for both of us - I know I can speak to my friends from 3pm my time and I’ll get a few messages in before I start work and everyone at home goes to sleep.’
Aside for playing for Lake View’s A grade side in the Eastern Goldfields Cricket Association leagues, Burrows spends some of his week working for Kalgoorlie Boulder City council’s parks department and coaching the club’s juniors: ’I coach the under-17 side along with the other import Ben [Brown from Middlesbrough] and they play a mixture of T20 games under the lights and 40-over games on Sunday.’
If 42-degree heat wasn’t enough to contend with, the former Ballakermeen student admits the cricket is tough with the climate contributing to some rock-hard pitches that are worlds away from the artificial surfaces the majority of Manx cricket is played on: ’The standard is good out here, which is a challenge each game but one that I like. I’m still trying to change areas in my game a little bit which will hopefully allow me to score more runs.
’Other than playing in 40-plus degree heat and no one really thinking much of it, the biggest difference would probably be the way the game is played.
’Despite being a small city, the games are very competitive. Things can get heated, which is not always the best, but it is a big difference to what I’m used to at home. Another big difference is the pitches. The decks are hard and bouncy, which can make it difficult to play at times.’
Despite this George has found his form with his bat: ’My highlight here would have to be scoring the side’s first century since January 2011 against leaders Hannans. My second-wicket partnership of 173 with skipper Ashley Malec was the highest in the league since 2015.
’I also recently scored 71 against Great Boulder. I had to grind that one out when the ball was swinging and we were losing wickets often.’
Burrows returns to the island in March, just in time for the start of the Manx season: ’It’s going to be another big season at home too, especially with it being a competition year, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into that.’
He admits if Lake View came calling again next winter, it would be a hard proposition to turn down: ’I’d love to come back out and play here. I’ve enjoyed it so far and I have plenty more to look forward to, which is always a nice feeling.’