Todd Murphy was always going to be a good cricketer.
The Moama-raised teenager didn't need to play the 2017-18 season with Sandhurst in the BDCA to enhance his status as one of Victoria's brightest young all-round talents.
He could have spent another season in his hometown before making the move to Premier Cricket club St Kilda where his father Jamie is a club great.
With the luxury of hindsight, Murphy said his decision to play with Sandhurst might turn out to be the best move of his career.
With former Victorian spinner and current Australian spin coach Craig Howard as his captain at Sandhurst, the right-arm off-spinner and left-hand bat flourished and became a key member of the Dragons' drought-breaking premiership side.
This week Murphy returned to the scene of Sandhurst's premiership glory - the QEO - this time as captain of the Victoria Country under-19 team for trial games against Victoria Metro.
"I only played one game on the QEO that season and that was the grand final, so it's nice to be back,'' Murphy said with a grin.
Some of his former Sandhurst team-mates were at the QEO to watch Tuesday night's Twenty20 game.
While he's now in his second season with St Kilda, and he recently made his Victorian second XI debut, Murphy hasn't forgotten what the season with the Dragons did for his cricket.
"I'd played senior cricket in Moama since I was 13 and I really loved that, but I'd come to a point where I really needed to do something with my cricket,'' he said.
"At the time, the transfer to Bendigo I could do whereas I couldn't go to Melbourne because of school.
"That year with Sandhurst shaped me into the player I am now. Working with Craig Howard developed me from a part-time spinner into a proper bowler.
"It was the most important year of cricket I've had. I'm forever grateful to Sandhurst for taking me on board.
"To top that season off with a premiership was fantastic."
Murphy made 284 runs and took 19 wickets at first XI level for Sandhurst, but the pure numbers were not a true reflection on what the season did for the then 17-year-old.
Working on his craft with Howard on a weekly basis, playing with and against a higher standard of cricketer, while given the responsibility of batting in the top four and bowling a high number of overs, gave Murphy a great grounding for Premier Cricket.
Murphy's debut season with St Kilda the following summer was outstanding for a rookie.
He played 15 games at first XI level and picked up 21 wickets at an average of 23 and economy rate of just three.
His Twenty20 form in the Super Slam competition was just as impressive - 12 wickets at an average of nine.
In seven games to start the 2019-20 Premier Cricket season Murphy has already taken 13 wickets.
"I was happy enough with my first season, but to start really well this year and take a few wickets has been awesome,'' Muprhy said.
"We have a really exciting group at St Kilda, so I'm looking forward to see what we can achieve."
Murphy's form with the Saints saw him rewarded with selection in the Victorian second XI to play South Australia in a four-day game earlier this month.
He bowled 28 overs for figures of 2-73.
"It was good for me to test myself at that level and get a guide as to where I'm at,'' he said.
"On a flat Junction Oval wicket I thought I bowled well."
Two other former BDCA players were in the Victorian second XI side that week - White Hills' Brayden Stepien and Strathfieldsaye's Xavier Crone.
"It was the first time I'd played with those two guys (Crone and Stepien) and I think Croney is really leading the way with his (state) contract and the way he's fit in,'' Murphy said.
"Guys are coming from Bendigo and other country towns and they're doing well at Premier Cricket. They don't look out of their depth.
"Players in Bendigo cricket that are doing well should be looking at that and realising that they're not far away."
For the second-straight year Murphy has been named captain of the Victoria Country under-19 team.
Next month he'll lead his side into battle at the national championships in Perth.
"It's nice to know that they (Cricket Victoria) back me as a leader,'' Murphy said.
"I've always aspired to be a leader and it's something that I've really worked on.
"Being a leader adds another string to your bow and I feel as though, most of the time, I play better when I'm captain.
"This year, even more so than last year, we have a side that's really exciting.
"I think it's going to be a really exciting tournament for us."
As Murphy celebrated premiership glory with his Sandhurst team-mates 18 months ago, little did he realise at the time that two members of that team would go on to represent Victoria Country together.
Nick Gladman is one of Victoria Country's premier young fast bowlers.
"Nick's gone from Sandhurst last year into Essendon second XI this year and putting some really strong performances on the board,'' Murphy said.
"Everything I've seen from him this year has been really good. He's improved since that year I spent with him at Sandhurst.
"He's picked up a yard in pace and he's still swinging the ball with the same control. He's a really consistent bowler which makes him tough to bat against.
"We've played Northern Rivers together since under-14s and we've become really close... to have him in this side is awesome."
The national under-19 titles in Perth start on December 2.
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