Ball switches games

The bearded Jake Ball leaves the field in Dublin after his international debut for Wales. Picture: Getty Images
The bearded Jake Ball leaves the field in Dublin after his international debut for Wales. Picture: Getty Images

Ball was a mainstay of the attack, taking 10 wickets in the Newcastle tournament where WA had finished second behind a strong NSW team.

The family had migrated to Perth from the UK when Ball was 16 and his desire for a cricket career had impressed the Fremantle club.

But a year after excelling for WA, the talented paceman had a major change of heart and gave cricket away in favour of rugby, the game in which his father Dave had excelled.

It was a brave decision by Ball, especially as WA cricket was desperate to swell the fast-bowling ranks in a state that once had a reputation for producing some of Australia’s top pacemen.

Ball joined the Palmyra club and it was not long before he was playing in the second row in Rugby WA’s premier league.

The 1.97m forward also came to the notice of Western Force scouts but even though being in the extended players’ squad, Ball was never offered a contract by the Super Rugby franchise.

Instead he accepted an offer to play for Wales’ famous Llanelli club, making his debut in 2012 aged 21 before this month playing his first Test match for Wales.

‘Jake was a model player and we are delighted for him,’ Palmyra Rugby Club president Chris Ward said.

‘He has had to overcome injury setbacks, but his hard work, great attitude and dedication have seen him excel in Wales. It’s very well deserved.’

Understandably the Palmyra club, which marks its 80th anniversary this year, is extremely proud of Ball’s achievement.

And his father, who has coached Palmyra’s premier team, saw his son make his Test debut against Ireland in Dublin on February 8.

Unfortunately for Wales, they suffered a disappointing 26-3 defeat and Ball, one of seven on the reserves bench, came on about 10 minutes from the end.

‘It was a tough 10 minutes but you just think ‘I have got to make as much of an impact as I can; the game isn’t lost until the final whistle’,’ Ball told Britain’s Daily Post newspaper.

Ball said it was great to have his family at the game and he gained his second international cap when he went on for the final 10 minutes in Wales’ crushing 27-6 defeat of France in Cardiff last Friday night.

While the young giant now looks set for a rewarding career in the tough world of Test match rugby, there is no doubt WA cricket’s loss is Wales’ gain.