By Lance Jenkinson
While his cricket whites have not seen daylight for some time, Lynbrook youngster Jono D’Rozario has not used that as an excuse to stop looking for an edge during lockdown.
The practical side of his game had to take a back seat, but the Buckley Ridges product has focused on other aspects that will be beneficial once he can get back into the field of battle.
It is D’Rozario’s self-drive and dedication to the game that went some way to sealing his selection in the Cricket Victoria Under-19 Emerging Performance Squad.
“There’s always things to do around the game,” he said.
“It’s been a decent opportunity to work on some things that you can work on, on your own.
“It’s also been a really good opportunity to work on fitness.”
If D’Rozario can fulfil his potential, he will be a valuable asset for his club – Richmond – in Premier Cricket for years to come and he will be knocking down the door of Victorian selectors before too long.
Not only is he a quality leg spin bowler, but he is also a strong batsman, which will offer rare versatility to a batting order.
“I can bat sort of wherever the team needs me to,” he said.
“It’s about being as flexible as you can and knowing your role in the game, as well as your role in the team.”
The lockdown has allowed D’Rozario to be solely a student of the game.
He has turned to the digital sphere to analyse his bowling technique and further enhance his batting.
One area of his focus has been situational batting, something he only needs to flick on his television to observe, with so much professional cricket being played across the globe.
It’s one thing to be a skilled batsman, but for D’Rozario, who prides himself on being able to play roles in the top, middle and lower orders, it’s vital that he is aware of all game situations and knows when he needs to accelerate and when to remain calm.
“Something I’ve been able to do is watch a lot of the cricket,” he said.
“Looking at guys bat in different types of game sense.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to improve my ways in that respect.”
D’Rozario has relished the chance to take part in online sessions with the Emerging Performance Squad.
The ongoing theme of those Zoom conferences has been mental toughness and self-belief.
“It kind of widened our eyes about cricket, not just being about the bat and ball,” he said.
“We’ve talked about the resilience side of things.
“With the game of cricket, a lot of it is done above the shoulders.
“It’s definitely good to have a clear mind, and it’s something that got reiterated a lot and being confident in your own ability.”
D’Rozario has the right environment for his cricket to thrive.
As part of the emerging Victorian squad, he is training alongside like-minded individuals with development at the forefront of their minds, while getting to “pick the brains” of coaches and mentors who have played at the highest level.
In clubland, D’Rozario could not be in a better situation, with Richmond putting in plenty of time developing its talented crop of youngsters.
Ten members of the Emerging Performance Squad are from Richmond and they are ultra-competitive.
Training sessions among these tenacious teens are fierce and that only helps D’Rozario and the other players to get better.
“We’re a very young club with plenty of opportunity,” he said.
“We’re all pushing each other to get better.
“The competition that goes on in the nets bat versus ball is pretty intense.
“We’re all youngsters and we all want to improve and impress.
“There’s a few battles going on.”
Even on the home front, D’Rozario has the benefit of his dad, Shane, who is a cricket tragic and once a Buckley Ridges star.
Shane took out the Dandenong District Cricket Association’s highest honour, the Wookey Medal, in season 2006-07.
“It’s good to always have someone around that I can have a chat with about the game,” D’Rozario said.
“He’s like that coach who is always around.”
It was at Buckley Ridges where D’Rozario got his launching pad for a successful junior career.
He said the club has been a powerhouse of the DDCA for “some time”, but still prioritised the development of its young players.
“It’s provided a fair few juniors the opportunity to go and play Premier Cricket,” he said.
“It’s provided them with a really stable base.
“I’m really grateful for what they’ve been able to do for me.”
D’Rozario has one thing on his mind going into the 2020-21 season: Development.
While he relished the chance to play first XI cricket at Richmond last summer, he knows the battle for spots will be intense.
He is “not fazed” what grade he starts in this season, as long as he is continually improving.
“I was lucky enough to have a couple of good performances in the twos and sort of work my way up into the ones,” D’Rozario said.
“That was a good tick in the box for the 2019-20 season.
“As we’ve always said, as a young player you’re always looking at your development first.
“I’m really enjoying it at Richmond, where every guy is looking to develop and get better at their game, so whether it be in the ones or the twos, as long as I feel like I’m developing, I’m happy.”