HAVING had his first taste of Sheffield Shield action last season, former Bendigo cricketer James Seymour is hungry for more.
Run machine Seymour is among 29 players with a Victorian contract this season and he's determined to use his Sheffield Shield debut last season as a springboard into more four-day cricket for his state.
And the 29-year-old has given himself the chance to do just that having been named in Victoria's squad of 13 to play New South Wales at Drummoyne Oval starting Wednesday.
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It will be the first Shield game for both states after their seasons were delayed by COVID-19 lockdowns and state border closures.
Seymour's selection in the Victorian squad that was announced on Saturday came two days after he made 107 in a two-day intra-squad practice match.
"I know I'm not a walk-up start and it's pretty competitive to get a game with a lot of really talented players in the squad," Seymour said.
"I've just got to try to take any opportunity that I can get... there's no guarantees going forward, but I just want to make runs wherever I can, be it first-class level or club cricket.
"I just want to do my best every time I go out to play."
I've just got to try to take any opportunity that I can get... there's no guarantees going forward, but I just want to make runs wherever I can, be it first-class level or club cricket- James Seymour
Batting at No.5 Seymour compiled 60 off 123 balls with seven boundaries and one six in a game that ended in a draw with Victoria not batting in its second innings.
Two days later Seymour scored 9 n.o. in Victoria's Marsh Cup one-day win also against South Australia at the Junction Oval.
"Being around the group and being able to train every day has been an amazing experience... you sometimes pinch yourself and I really just want to make the most of it because you never know how long it could last for," Seymour said.
"Obviously I'm coming in a bit later at the age of 29, but it would be unreal if I could making some sort of career out of it; whether it's three, four, five, six years or whatever it may be.
"I feel really fortunate to be a professional player and want to make it last as long as I can and that's how I'm approaching this season."
While he has had a heavy training load as a contracted Victorian state player, Seymour has just spent his first winter for the best part of a decade without playing competitive games.
Seymour has traveled north for the past seven winters to play cricket in Darwin with Waratahs during the Victorian off-season, which followed a two-season stint playing in England.
"This has been my first winter in Melbourne since 2011," Seymour said.
"But I've been training since June, so it has been a long pre-season and the first pre-season I've had for quite a while.
"It is something that I have enjoyed having a bit of a change and a new opportunity to train, get better and get coached by some really good people rather than doing the same thing of going up to Darwin again."
Seymour first played senior cricket with Bendigo in the BDCA in 2006-07 before making the move as an 18-year-old to play Premier Cricket in Melbourne.
The bulk of the gun left-handed opening batsman's Premier Cricket has been played at Essendon - including in 2019-20 when he won the Ryder Medal - while he also had a one-season stint with Casey.
Last season he churned out 822 runs at an average of 91.3 for the Bombers, with his scintillating form that included three unbeaten centuries - 142 v Geelong, 113 v Camberwell Magpies and 108 v Dandenong - earning him a late-season call-up into the Melbourne Stars' Big Bash squad as a replacement player for West Indian Nicholas Pooran.
Seymour was an X-factor substitute for three games, but didn't get the chance to bat for the Stars.
At this stage it's a wait-and-see as to Seymour's BBL prospects for this season ahead of the tournament that will start when the Sydney Sixers and Melbourne Stars meet on December 5.
Unfortunately, Seymour missed the chance of showcasing his Twenty20 wares in the Darwin-based Strike League that the Melbourne Stars and Melbourne Renegades academy teams were due to play in August.
Seymour had been picked as part of the Stars Academy for the tournament to play against the Renegades Academy and four Northern Territory teams.
However, Melbourne's lockdown restrictions forced the two Victorian teams to withdraw.
"The Strike League would have been a good opportunity for more growth and to try to perform against the other teams," Seymour said.
"For me, a lot will depend on what overseas players Big Bash teams have - whether that's the Stars or Renegades or another team - and if there's a role that I could fill, so it's a bit of a wait and see on that at the moment."
Seymour is one of two former Bendigo District Cricket Association players in the Victorian squad for the Shield game against New South Wales.
Also in the squad is rookie-contracted Sam Elliott, whose cricket journey included a stint playing juniors with Bendigo - the same club as Seymour.
Seymour and Elliott are among four former BDCA cricketers contracted by Victoria this season, along with Strathfieldsaye's Xavier Crone and Sandhurst 2017-18 premiership player Todd Murphy.
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