Cooper Connolly looks like he’d be more at home on a surfboard than in the middle of a cricket ground.
Yet the 19-year-old clearly looks like he has the nerve and the game to play at the top level.
He walked off Optus Stadium on Saturday night after playing a key role in the Perth Scorchers Big Bash final win over the Brisbane Heat, to 53,886 fans chanting his name, who certainly believe in him.
It was eerie.
He didn’t even hit the winning runs for the Scorchers. His teammate Nick Hobson smashed 10 runs in two balls to get Perth over the line against the Heat with three balls remaining.
But Connolly’s daring 25 runs from 11 balls, including a boundary and two massive sixes, stole the show.
The Australian captain for the 2022 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies took the responsibility to win the game and followed through.
“I just walked up to Hobbo and I said ‘mate, we can do this. I have full faith in ourselves,” he said when he got to the wicket needing 39 runs to win from 19 deliveries.
“And after that over from (James) Bazley (when he hit 19 runs), I thought we can actually do this and we sort of just got on a roll and that’s what momentum does.
“We needed 10 off the last over so we even thought three twos and one boundary and we’re away.”
That plan didn’t last long. Connolly hit a single with the first ball of the over, before the six and a four were hit by Hobson to seal the win.
It was only Connolly’s fourth game of the tournament and just his second time at the crease.
He hit an unbeaten 20 runs from 11 balls in his previous knock, against the Melbourne Renegades in Game 52.
He’s also been working closely with Ash Agar, a fellow left hand spinner.
But it’s his batting now that has people talking.
“(Agar’s) been so good for me, even coming in last year I was sort of around a little bit,” he said.
“He’s taught me how he goes about it and he’s one of the best T20 in the world so to learn from him is amazing and he’s an absolute hero of mine as well.”
“(This performance) just gives me that extra boost that I can play at this level,”
“A couple of games ago I wasn’t too sure, and this was like I can play on the big stage and I’m confident in myself that I can perform under pressure.”