Canberra’s Aaron Ayre made his Big Bash League debut on Saturday night. Photo: Rohan ThomsonCanberra junior Aaron Ayre’s Big Bash debut was swamped and overshadowed by the Chris Gayle saga, the fireworks in front of 43,000 fans and one of the strangest run-outs in cricket history.
But the former ACT Comet says he felt at home on the big stage as the cricket world turned its attention to Etihad Stadium and Gayle’s first appearance since his infamous “don’t blush baby” interview.
Ayre was sandwiched between Gayle’s ongoing drama and Adam Zampa’s nose run-out as he fell for a first-ball duck in his first match for the Melbourne Renegades on Saturday night.
It was hardly an ideal start to Ayre’s hopes of earning a more regular spot in the star-studded Renegades line-up, and he hopes to make amends if he gets a shot at redemption against the Sydney Thunder on Monday.
Ayre was called into the Renegades squad after Matthew Wade and Aaron Finch joined the n side for the one-day international series against India.
It meant he took the giant leap from club cricket to being thrust into the middle of a Big Bash sideshow involving Gayle and his exchange with Channel Ten’s Mel McLaughlin.
So how did the 23-year-old manage to avoid getting caught up in non-cricket related matters? Simple.
“You just block it out. We just try to get on with playing with cricket,” Ayre said.
“The group has been really good, we’ve just tried to block it out and move on. I think we’ve done that well with training and concentrating on cricket. It’s one of those things you try not to think about it because there’s a game on the line that you’ve got to win. There’s a lot of hype during the week but you go through a routine on game day.”
Ayre’s BBL debut capped off a whirlwind two months after being plucked from Melbourne grade-cricket and making a mad dash across town to play his first Sheffield Shield game in November.
Playing at the MCG for Victoria was a chance for Ayre to realise a childhood dream.
But walking on to the field in front of a boisterous Big Bash crowd sent shivers down his spine as he made his way to the middle.
More than 80,000 fans watched the first Renegades derby against the Melbourne Stars and another 43,000 turned up to see Ayre play his first BBL match.
It wasn’t that long ago that Ayre was walking on to Manuka Oval or grounds around Canberra in front of a handful of friends and family.
“The buzz of Twenty20 cricket is amazing, you can’t ask for much more than playing in front of big crowds and doing something that you love,” Ayre said.
“It’s pretty much a dream come true to get a chance to do that, and hopefully it’s not my only chance.
“I’d love it if there were more chances around the corner. You get a bit nervous sitting there, but once you get over the rope you treat it like just another game. It doesn’t change how you play.”
Ayre was sent into the field instead of behind the stumps as n Test gloveman Peter Nevill took the gloves.
But rather than look at it as a missed opportunity, Ayre sees his chance as a perfect way to learn from some of the best players in the competition.
Alongside Gayle and Nevill, the Renegades also boast Dwayne Bravo, Cameron White, Xavier Doherty, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle.
“Hopefully [the first-ball duck] was my one and only and I get another chance to play,” Ayre said after arriving in Sydney on Sunday.
“You try to learn as much as possible of the guys in team and have as many chats with them as you can to try to improve your game. They’ve played at the highest level and that’s what I’m aspiring to do … you try as much as you can to close the gap to play at that next level.”