31/05/2024

Hobart Hurricanes opener Caleb Jewell hit career-best in BBL|12. (Picture: Hobart Hurricanes/Facebook; Design: Madeline Irwin)

Like anyone looking to establish themselves, Caleb Jewell has experienced ups and downs throughout his cricketing journey.

Great achievements have been accompanied by tough moments, with Jewell finding himself outside of the Hurricanes and Tasmania’s set-up during his short career.

It took until his fourth season in the BBL for the Hobart opener to fully arrive in the competition and show what he can do. After being left out of the side at the start of last season, Jewell made his way back into the team and had a four-game stretch at the start of January where he made scores of 54, 54, 28, and 70.

While that form didn’t continue for the entirety of the season, his emergence was easily one of the biggest highlights in what was a disappointing year for Hobart overall.

No one welcomed Jewell’s rise more than the man himself, with the 25-year-old able to squash the internal pressure he had built up.

“It was a bit of a relief, to be honest. To actually show not only to everyone else but to myself that I can compete,” Jewell told The Inner Sanctum when discussing his BBL|12 campaign.

“I think I’ve probably put a bit of pressure on myself in the last couple of years to think that I should be a better T20 player than I have been. So it was good to get a few runs on the board and show everyone what I can do.”

Caleb Jewell after his first-ever Player of the Match performance. (Picture: Hobart Hurricanes – Facebook)

It hasn’t been a straightforward path for Jewell, who originally seemed destined to arrive at this point. He was touted as a batting prodigy from a young age, which was reflected by the fact he made his first-class debut for Tasmania as an 18-year-old.

Jewell was later given his first contract with the Hurricanes in 2018 and while he showed promise at times, the left-hander struggled for consistency during his first two seasons in the BBL.

It resulted in him not being given a contract for BBL|10. He was later signed as a replacement player for that season but did not play a game. But during that time Jewell was reminding everyone of what he could do.

He put together a destructive 2020/21 campaign for North Hobart in the Cricket Tasmania Premier League, where he made five centuries and captained the side to a T20 title.

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This led to a Sheffield Shield recall in early 2021 after he had not represented Tasmania in any format for 15 months. He went on to compile two first-class centuries and later won the David Boon Medal (the Tasmanian Sheffield Shield Player of the Year) for the 2021/22 season.

This run of form also convinced the Hurricanes to sign him back to their primary list. Jewell played 11 games for Hobart in BBL|11 and was opening the batting again by the time the team was eliminated by Adelaide in the finals.

But despite coming off a career-best BBL campaign and good domestic form, Jewell initially found himself on the outer at the Hurricanes last season.

When he did return to the XI, he brought a different mindset to the crease.

“I put a lot of pressure on T20 cricket and probably thought that in a way it sort of defined me as a player and defined everyone else because there’s so much media around it,” Jewell said.

“But I just said to myself that if I don’t have a good Big Bash it doesn’t mean I’m not a good player. I sort of took that pressure away from myself and it worked in my favour.”

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Jewell said it felt good to demonstrate his skills to the wider and larger audience that the BBL attracts.

“I think it was a little bit frustrating that I couldn’t show for so long what I’ve been able to do for Tassie and North Hobart on that national stage,” he said.

“For people to be able to see that I can actually bat, it was good for my confidence as well.”

He’s taking that confidence into BBL|13, having likely solidified a spot in the best XI and with the knowledge that he can perform at the level.

“It’ll probably be a bit nicer when the Big Bash comes around next year knowing I’m a good chance to be playing. Usually, I’m thinking that I’m going to be just filling up the squad for most of it,” Jewell said.

“It just makes me feel a bit calmer, actually knowing that I’ve been able to put some runs on the board, it plays a massive part when you’re not going so well.

“I probably didn’t have that when I was struggling at the start. I had nothing else to lean on, so that’ll be good for me when things aren’t going well next time.”

Jewell is now opening for his state in all three formats of the game, with Tasmania’s Sheffield Shield and Marsh One Day Cup campaigns resuming this month.

It’s a position he’s worked hard to be in after doubting whether it would have ever been possible.

“To just be playing in all three [formats], there was a time as little as two years ago where I would’ve felt like it was so far away, especially with Shield cricket,” Jewell said.

“I pinch myself a little bit, but I’ve got to keep going because there are people knocking down the door in club cricket behind me.”

Jewell has been in good touch for the Tigers this summer, having made centuries in both formats earlier in the domestic season. The highlight was a blistering 126* he made off just 97 balls against South Australia in the Marsh Cup, the second fastest One Day century by a Tasmanian.

“I think I made more runs in that innings than I did in the whole One Day comp last year, so that was that was a bit of a relief,” Jewell joked.

“You don’t get many opportunities to be in that sort of mood or to see the ball as well as I did that day.

“We put on a pretty awesome partnership me and Benny (McDermott), we seem to bat well together so it was nice to start the season like that.”

Jewell also relishes playing red-ball cricket, which he views as the “ultimate challenge”.

“I think people would probably say that I’m reasonably attacking when it comes to four-day cricket, but I just love the challenge,” he said.

“I’m probably viewed a little bit more as a white ball player, but I don’t necessarily think that. Red ball cricket to me is the ultimate challenge, so I’m trying my best to have as good a season as I can because that’s what I grew up wanting to play for Tassie.”

Caleb Jewell after making his maiden first-class century against Queensland. (Picture: Cricket Tasmania)

The Tigers are currently fifth on the Sheffield Shield ladder, with Jewell having one clear goal in mind as they prepare for the latter half of the season.

“I’d love to play in a final with the team that we’ve got now because we’re getting quite old … it’d be awesome to try and make the most of it while we’ve got it,” he said.

As for his own aspirations, Jewell is focussing on the present and not looking too far ahead.

“I’m one of those guys that probably never feels like I’m cemented in any team,” he said.

“As I said earlier, as little as two years ago I didn’t know if I was good enough to play at all. So I just want to try and score as many 100s as I can, whatever happens after that happens.

“If I look any further than that, I’ll be playing a lot more for North Hobart.”

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