WITH the christian name Hayden, Wingham's Hayden Essery just had to be a cricketer and an opening batsman.
He was named after the former Australian test opener, Matthew Hayden. When Hayden was born his namesake was with the Australian team plundering the Indian attack in India. That sealed the deal as far as name was concerned.
His dad, Matt, has been a top cricketer with the Wingham club for many summers and now Hayden is showing plenty of aptitude for the game.
He's in train-on squad for the NSW PSSA cricket team to travel to Darwin to contest the Australian championships in June. Hayden is also the Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week, earning a $50 open order at Iguana.
Selectors named a squad of 24 to attend a camp at St Gregory's College in Campbelltown from April 22-24 and this will be whittled down to 13 for the trip to Darwin.
Hayden shot to prominence in the State championships where he was a member of the Hunter side. He made 14, 25, 41 and 23 in what was generally a low scoring tournament with the batsmen battling heavy fields caused by torrential rain the previous weekend. Going into the last day of the championship Hayden was the highest scoring batsman, although it hasn't since been confirmed if this is how it stayed.
Hunter finished fourth out of 14. Hayden, a medium pacer, also enhanced his chances of State selection by taking a couple of wickets at vital times.
"I'm hoping for the best,'' the almost 12-year-old replied when asked about his chances of making the State side.
Hayden's enjoyed a fruitful summer with Wingham in the Manning under 12s competition. He has scored 310 runs at the imposing average of 155. Players in the 12s have to retire at 50 and Hayden's highest score is 53.
Wingham plays Old Bar in the grand final tomorrow.
Hayden's been in the Manning representative side for the past two years and also played for Mid North Coast this season in a carnival in Lismore.
He started playing cricket three years ago when he filled in with for his elder brother's team, but admits he wasn't immediately taken by the game.
"I thought it was a bit boring at first,'' he said.
However, he managed to take a couple of catches and that quickly changed his thinking.
He said the input he's received from his Manning representative coach John Delaney and coach of the Hunter side, Rob Eddy, have helped improve his game.
During winter Hayden plays junior rugby league with the Wingham Tigers. However, he'll wait until his cricket commitments are through before pulling on the boots this season. He hopes this won't be until after the nationals in June.