Ben’s journey from laying bricks to breaking walls | india | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Apr 26, 2017-Wednesday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

Ben’s journey from laying bricks to breaking walls

india Updated: Jan 08, 2012 01:27 IST
Rohit Bhaskar
Rohit Bhaskar


Fast bowlers running in to bowl on unresponsive, even flat pitches are often metaphorically linked to menial labourers. While Ben Hilfenhaus was delivering his wide mix of out swingers and off-cutters on a batsman's paradise at the SCG, it was more akin to high-skilled labour.

Australia's comeback man, the highest wicket taker in the series so far, would know the difference. After all, as a youngster, he used to work at construction sites as a bricklayer.

Days of toil
Speaking to HT, the president of Tasmania University Cricket Club Paul McNamara, recalled a young Hilfenhaus' days of toil away from the ground. "Ben hails from the north of Tasmania (Ulverstone). When he first moved to Hobart to further his cricketing ambitions, he held many odd jobs alongside playing cricket for the club. He worked as a bricklayer and also did a few more labourers' jobs."

It wasn't just to earn money. "You could say he also opted for the jobs to help build up his strength and develop physically. It's something whose benefits he reaps to this day," said McNamara, pointing to the tireless spells against India at the SCG where Hilfenhaus collected a fifer for the second Test in a row. His work ethic was evident even in his rookie Sheffield Shield season, when he bowled 200 overs more than any other fast bowler in Australia.

These days Hilfenhaus works out with the physically imposing Australian Rules Football (AFL) players, something he did ahead of the series to work his way back into peak fitness after a debilitating knee injury haunted him through most of the previous Australian summer.

After impressing all with his early outings for Australia, which included a 22-wicket haul in the 2009 Ashes defeat in England, Hilfenhaus' career was at the crossroads at the start of 2011 following an uninspiring season in which he finished the Ashes at home with seven wickets at 59.28.

McDermott’s help According to McNamara, Hilfenhaus spent long periods with Tasmania coach Tim Coyle at the start of the season figuring out what he was doing wrong. Craig McDermott's arrival as bowling coach helped Hilfenhaus add variety to his bowling which has yielded a rich haul in the series.

'Gentle Ben', whose other sporting passion is golf (handicap 8), probably bowled the ball of the series to knock back VVS Laxman's off-stump in the second innings.

That after sneaking through Dravid's defence in the first innings; the man who once laid bricks, was now breaking down The Wall!