Griffith University student Michael Neser hopes to lead the Adelaide Strikers to their first KFC Big Bash League title as the T20 cricket competition finals loom.
The BBL has dramatically increased in popularity this season, with some games drawing crowds of more than 80,000.
Neser, a third-year Bachelor of Business student, said it was an amazing experience playing to such a large audience.
“It has been crazy,” he said. “When it first started, we never imagined the BBL would end up like this with crowds of 80,000 and selling out most games.
“Some days it’s a bit overwhelming but it is a really cool experience and I am so stoked to be a part of it.”
Neser is back with the Strikers after missing last season’s BBL with a back injury.
However, he made good use of the time away by resuming study at Griffith University. He is now a member of the Griffith Sports College.
“Returning to study really helped me focus and take my mind off things. The Sports College helped me to bring a good balance back to my life and it has given me a new focus.”
Born in South Africa, Neser moved to the Gold Coast with his family at the age of 10 and emerged in the Queensland’s Under-19 cricket side in 2008-09.
The dynamic all-rounder made his debut for Queensland in 2010-11, playing in the Sheffield Shield and Ryobi Cup.
He was named the Adelaide Strikers Most Valuable Player for the 2013-14 BBL League season.
The Strikers play the Melbourne Renegades at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium tonight before heading into the semi-finals on January 21.
Griffith also had two other students playing in the BBL, with Jimmy Peirson (Bachelor of Business) and Sam Heazlett (Bachelor of Exercise Science) lining up for Brisbane Heat, while graduate Jessica Jonassen (Bachelor of Laws) represented the Heat in the Women’s BBL.
Jessica, who was 2014-15 Women’s International Cricket League Player of the Year, said she was excited that the WBBL had also gained momentum and interest from the public.
“It’s been amazing and the exposure that we are getting is really exciting,” she said.
“We are getting up to 14,000 people at our matches – it’s great for women in sport.”
Griffith Sports College manager Duncan Free OAM said it was great to see Griffith students, both male and female, represented in the BBL not just in Brisbane but around the country.
“Personally I love watching our athletes compete,” he said. “Tt’s a sense of pride for me and the University and I like to think that perhaps we’ve have helped them in their journey to success along the way.”