As one of the best spin bowlers to emerge from Goulburn in recent years, Archie Wearne was lucky enough to participate in an online seminar last month which featured Australian off-spinner, Nathan Lyon.
But instead of gaining an insight into the intricacies of bowling spin at the highest level, Wearne came away from the interaction with some new life lessons.
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"It wasn't really about spin bowling, but his journey," Wearne said.
"From the time he was in Young to the time he was playing for Australia, it was nine years. From playing in country NSW, to playing for two different states, to the Australian team in nine years, it was pretty cool.
"It gives a bit of hope for how quickly things can happen."
Lyon, who is affectionately known as "GOAT" in national cricketing circles due to his record as Australia's most successful Test off-spinner, has made a habit of sharing his vast knowledge with young regional cricketers.
The seminar was one of an online series organised by Lyon and Cricket NSW Pathways Manager, Nic Bills, due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns across NSW.
The upcoming 2021/22 season will be Wearne's second in the ACT Premier Cricket competition. The Goulburn resident made his debut in Canberra for Eastlake last season, where he was thrown in the deep end as the club's frontline spin bowler.
As was to be expected of a young legspinner in his debut First Grade season, Wearne struggled.
The 17-year-old, who bowls slow, flighted legspin and gets good turn off most surfaces, struggled with the step up in quality in 2020/21.
A modest return of 21 wickets from 29 matches reflected the steepness of Wearne's learning curve. But the youngster showed flashes of the talent which made him a standout in Goulburn with some good spells against Tuggeranong Valley, Western District, and North Canberra Gungahlin in rounds eight, 12, and 13 respectively.
The biggest lesson Wearne gleaned, however, was not related to technique, preparation, or tactics, but mindset.
"I learned to trust myself, that was one of the big things," he said.
Trusting his skills and preparation will be more important this season than it ever has for Wearne, who has been unable to train with his teammates due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place in NSW and Canberra.
To this end, he and his father, Stuart, are in the process of installing a net in their backyard to allow Archie to continue a regular training schedule.
In doing so, Wearne is following a principle espoused by Lyon during one of the seminars.
"The best thing that I try and do for myself is make sure each and every morning I get up to get better," Lyon said.
"That's either getting better as a cricketer - bat, bowl, field, whatever it may be - but also as a person as well. And as a dad.
"I want to be the best dad and the person I can be so there's always room for improvement in my eyes."
This is a mantra Wearne has taken to heart ahead of the upcoming season. And, with the confidence that is so crucial to success for high-level athletes, he has also set himself lofty goals in 2021/22.
"One of my goals is to be in the top three spinners in Canberra by the end of the year, and to get into the men's Comets team," he said.
"I feel like I can do it if I try hard enough. It's a bit of luck and hard work, that's what'll get me there."
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