Bendigo's Zac Sheehan is back in the Australian blind cricket squad and you can't wipe the smile off his face.
Sheehan spent the past five days with the national team in Canberra at the Australian Institute of Sport.
"I've been out of the Aussie squad for five years, so to get back in the squad is really big for me,'' Sheehan said.
"I've had to work my backside off to get back into it.
"It's a pleasure to be in the squad...it's not something that I ever take for granted."
The bushfires in Gippsland in early 2020 and then the COVID-19 pandemic put paid to much of Sheehan's cricket season last year.
Good form in three early matches earned him a call-up to the national squad and he's determined to make the most of it.
"We've had five T20 practice matches, net sessions, skills sessions and recovery sessions,'' Sheehan said of the training camp.
"It's been a busy schedule, but just to be back amongst the group and bonding with the guys has been a lot of fun."
Sheehan said his return to the national team was built around improved bowling form.
"I'm a bowler who bats anywhere between six and nine, but in an Australian team I might even bat anywhere between six and 11,'' Sheehan said.
"My bowling technique has come on in leaps and bounds in the last three or four years.
"I feel as though I'm bowling a fair bit quicker. Now I need to work on my batting to help me keep my spot in the Australian squad."
Sheehan would love to use his experience in cricket to assist other regional Victorians with sight disabilities to get involved with the game.
"I love cricket as much as ever and I'm still as passionate about cricket as I've ever been,'' he said.
"Through this camp I want to set up Cricket Australia to do clinics in Bendigo and regional Victoria to help give other people with disabilities the opportunity to try cricket.
"Cricket is such a great sport and you get to meet lots of good people. I'd love to find some new members in regional Victoria to try cricket."
Sheehan said the national squad's schedule for 2021-22 was undecided because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Cricket Australia funding.
"A lot will depend on what happens with COVID-19,'' Sheehan said.
"We were meant to be going to England for the Ashes, but that's been postponed.
"We're hoping to get there in the middle of 2022."
For now, Sheehan will return to his other sporting passion - football.
This year he's assisting Newbridge coach Luke Freeman in the Loddon Valley Football Netball League.
"I'm helping out on the bench out at Newbridge and I'm loving it,'' he said.
"We've only won one game so far, but the camaraderie amongst the boys and club is great.
"We knew it was going to be a hard slog, but it's all about developing the group. They'll be fine in the long term."
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