20 Years ago a Dolphin was in the middle of an England vs Australia cricket decision, now history looks set to repeat itself.
Dolphin gun bat Sam Hain is 20 years of age and boasts six first-class centuries in county cricket for Warwickshire.
The only problem for Australia is he’d rather play for England.
“I’m a fair dinkum Pom, to say the least. The Australia Under-19 thing happened, but I was always set to play in England, ever since I was 14,” Hain said following his maiden century.
Born in Hong Kong to English parents, Hain moved to the Gold Coast when he was three where he made his first steps as a cricketer playing in the backyard against his brothers.
His talent was clear from an early age. In three seasons for the Gold Coast Under 14s, 15s and 16s representative sides he amassed 1141 runs at an average of 190.17 with six centuries in 13 innings.
In 2010, a 14-year-old Hain went to the Loretto School in Scotland for an eight-week exchange program, setting in motion a series of events that would see Warwickshire in England become his home.
After making a century in his first match for the school, the right-hander was sent by coach Michael Powell to spend a week with Warwickshire. He then joined the county’s academy in 2011 for a three-month stint playing second XI cricket and the club decided to invest in his future.
“I thought that would be it but then, at the end of that, they said they wanted to offer me a contract and I couldn’t believe it. I’ve always played cricket just on a Saturday, but now it’s going to be a job,” he told Cricinfo in June 2014.
The county allowed Hain to come back to Australia to finish school before signing a contract in 2013.
Playing in the same side as Cameron Bancroft, Travis Head, Ashton Agar and Gurinder Sandhu, Hain endured a tough series, making scores of 4 and 1 in the first two games before an unbeaten 41 in the final against India. But it was impressive he was in the side at all at the age of 16.
Despite his modest returns in the series, the Queenslander earned a call-up for the Under 19s World Cup where he featured in two matches.
“It was a real surprise, not because I doubted myself, but because of all the other good players available – but I was extremely happy. The chance to play for Australia in a Youth World Cup in Australia was special,” Hain told the Warwickshire CCC Members’ Magazine.
Choosing Warwickshire over Queensland
As one of Australia’s rising stars, Hain looked destined to be offered a fulltime contract with Queensland but he wasn’t convinced one was coming.
“I didn’t really know if I was going to get signed on at Queensland so when the opportunity came to play in England, having spent a few months a year here and really enjoyed it, I took it with both hands. I’m really happy with the decision I’ve made - my cricket has grown, and I feel as a person I’ve grown as well,” he told Cricinfo.
“You never really know with professional cricket; you can do your best, score a few runs, but you never know what they’re thinking. Obviously I had inklings about getting signed but I genuinely didn’t really know.
“There are a ridiculous number of good players in Queensland so it’s really hard to put your finger on whether you’ll get picked up or not. I had to think clearly about it. Something good was on the table here and I was happy to sign and take the opportunity with both hands.”
He isn’t the first Queenslander to be involved in an international tug-of-war, with Andrew Symonds also having to decide between England and Australia once upon a time. Incredibly, Symonds represented the same club as Hain, the Gold Coast Dolphins.
After 22 matches, ty debut for Warwickshire’s first XI against Middlesex in May 2014, scoring a patient 42 off 107 balls against an attack featuring England’s Steven Finn. He became the county’s youngest ever centurion a month later, making 134 at second drop against Northamptonshire at the age of 18 years and 336 days in just his fifth first-class match.
Later in the season he became the youngest ever Warwickshire player to score a first-class double-century, making 208 in September 2014 at the age of 19 years and 57 days.
All in all it was an incredible first season for Hain who made 823 runs at an average of 51.43 with four centuries. His second season may not have been quite as impressive – he made 547 runs at an average of 36.46 – but it was by no means a poor campaign for the Hong Kong-born star who still managed two centuries for the competition.
Fifteen months ago Australia saw one of its own debut for the old enemy when Sam Robson took on Sri Lanka. It may have to do so once again in the not so distant future.he well-travelled 20-year old has scored 1370 runs at an average of 44.19 and made six centuries in first-class cricket. For the sake of comparison, Test hopeful Cameron Bancroft has scored 1570 runs at an average of 37.38 and made four centuries after 24 matches.
Hain made his count