Through lots of hard work, Matt Chasemore was able to construct an 18 year career in Victoria Premier Cricket, spanning across Dandenong, Frankston Peninsula and St Kilda. Matt scored thousands of Premier Firsts runs and took hundreds of wickets, his standout season being 2013/14 when he scored 919 runs @ 61.27 and took 21 wickets @ 17.43. He also averaged 77 with the bat from his two matches for Victoria 2nd XI.
More recently, Matt has had local success winning the 2015/16 Dandenong District Cricket Association (DDCA) Turf 1 premiership and 2016/17 Cricket Victoria (CV) Regional Big Bash with childhood club Cranbourne, before moving to Berwick where he also won the 2018/19 CV Regional Big Bash and 2019/20 DDCA Turf 1 premiership.
Thanks for giving up you time today Matt, let's get started.
Q. What year were you born?
Q. When did you start playing cricket and who for?
I was about 9 or 10, my mate and his dad got me into it and down playing for Cranbourne.
Q. When did you realise you had the potential to go beyond local cricket?
It never really hit me that I could go beyond local cricket until scored a hundred in the two’s in the last game of my first year at Dandy. I had a lot of critics and a lot of people telling me I was wasting my time and that I was never going to go anywhere, all those critics motivated me. I had a lot of little knock backs along my journey and I was really driven by those too. When I was about 26 at Frankston I really believed I could go on to higher levels of cricket.
Q. At what age did you start playing Premier cricket?
I started playing when I was 15.
Q. Early on, you were dropped from the Dandenong fourths, did that motivate you to work harder?
In round 1, I made four and I got dropped back to Turf 4 at Cranbourne. In that game I think I took 3/20 and made 32 not out. Next week Dandenong were short, so they gave me a ring and asked if I wanted to fill in, I filled in and scored 117.
Q. What advice would you give to a young cricketer that had to deal with a setback like that?
You don’t know how good you’re going to be until you’re older, little setbacks like that when you’re young are irrelevant in the scheme of things. It’s different from footy where if you haven’t made it when you’re 18 it gets very difficult. Crickets a lot more upstairs and in your brain, some of the best players mature in their late 20’s unless you’re a Cameron White or Will Pucovski. With my academy I just always send the message to the players, who are mostly kids, to not give up, keep working hard and not listen to their critics.
Q. What was it like scoring your maiden Premier firsts century?
It was unbelievable, it was against Melbourne Uni and they had Brett Harrop who was a really fast bowler, it’s just a cool feeling. And to do it in front of great names and guys you idolise like Tim Hooper and Warren Ayres, it’s even more special.
Q. You had a great season in 2005/06, what went wrong for you the next year?
I could say it’s a 1000 different things but I really don’t know. I got caught up a bit in the expectation to keep improving at the same rate I had been. I was in the Vic development squad and I didn’t really know how to handle the next stage of my career, opening the batting I was just trying too many different things that weren’t working. I didn’t talk to anyone or open up and try and fix the problems I was having. Eventually, I chatted with the assistant coach and just decided it was best to go back to my old ways and rely on the skills that had got me to where I was as opposed to looking too far forward, I just took a backward step basically.
Q. You were an established player in the Dandenong firsts for four or five years, how did you cope with missing out on the premiership?
It was one of the toughest things I’ve had to deal with, I was frustrated with the club, with the players, with everyone, it was a lonely place. I had grown and developed with the team for a while and like anyone the main reason I play is to win premierships. Obviously, you’re still supporting the team and want them to get over the line and I was 12th man but it’s such a bitter feeling and it really hurt deep down to not be apart of it. In the long term for me having that experience was one of the best things that could’ve happened in terms of my captaining and my coaching.
Q. Did missing out on the premiership affect your relationship with Warren Ayres?
It did a little at the time, when something like that happens it’s normal in life to strain the relationship, I was just a young kid. Kids that age tend to blame others instead of looking in their own backyard. To this day it hasn’t affected our relationship at all, if I called him or he called me we’d still have a great chat and be good mates. He’s won lots of premierships and knows how to win premierships and to win premierships you have to make tough decisions. At the end of the day the team won so it was the right call and I’m happy now.
Q. What was the reason for moving to Frankston Peninsula?
We had an unbelievable bowling lineup and I wanted to be an allrounder. There are 18 guys in the comp making 800 runs but there’s no one in the comp making 800 runs as an allrounder. I had to move my career forward and looking back it was a great call, I’m good mates with a lot of the blokes I played with at Frankston Peninsula.
Q. Nick Jewell wanted you to bat at four as opposed to opening, had you ever considered a move to the middle order before he suggested it?
Never in my 10 years at Dandy had I considered it, we had a great team there and it was just about letting the guns score and I was there to just block 200 or 300 balls. I didn’t challenge the game enough to be an opening batsman. I remember arriving at Frankston, and Nick Jewell said to me, “You’re an opening batsmen?” I said, “Yep.” He said, “You average 29?” I said, “Yep.” He goes, “So you’re not an opening batsmen. I want you to bat 4 and you’re going to average 50.” From that point in my career I probably did average 50 too. I trusted my coaches and I listened to the right people and backed him to make the right decision.
Q. Did you feel like batting in the middle order was better for your game?
It’s easier, well not easier, crickets not an easy game. If you’re two down for not many, the challenge of being an opener is still there and you have to outlast the new ball. From all my years of opening I know once the ball is swinging less and seaming less, I’m comfortable and I can control the game. That’s something Warren Ayres was always big on, controlling the game, and at number 4 you can. It helps to have someone like Nick Jewell around you too, Nick makes you walk taller and he sold the prospect of being a number four allrounder. If you have a guy like Nick backing you to do that then you have a lot more belief that you can do that.
Q. Your coaching stint at Frankston Peninsula didn’t work out, looking back do you feel like you could’ve been more lenient with the players?
I could argue with you about this for days. I potentially could’ve but I wouldn’t change anything, no. I always grew up trusting my coaches and not telling them what to do. The team hadn’t won any premierships, had made finals a few times but had never been on top and my belief is if you’re not on top you train until you get there, nothing is handed to you. We’re one level away from holding a professional contract and when you get to first class cricket you can’t pick and choose who coaches you and how they coach you.
Q. If you were to captain coach a premier club next season, would you do anything differently to what you did at Frankston Peninsula?
One thing I would do better is communicate. I was very old school, do the job you’re told, back everyone and help each other out. It’s not that simple. You’ve got to utilize different tools and I learnt a lot to mellow out playing local cricket when not everyone wants to go to that next level. If you want to get to the top you have to be ruthless and hard work is how you get to the top. I’ve also learnt to speak differently to different people with my academy, I’ve got thirty year old’s there and I’ve got ten year old’s there. I’m not going to speak to a thirty year old the way I would speak to a ten year old.
Q. After you were stood down as coach you stayed on as a player for a few more weeks, what was the mood in the dressing room like during those weeks and what was the ultimate reason for you leaving?
It was a tough one, I played one more game vs Hawthorn-Monash and I think I took 6-20 and made 90 odd. The feeling was gone and my reason to turn up and train was gone, it was becoming too hard and it was better for everyone if I moved on. It ripped my heart out leaving, I’d recruited some close mates and believed we were building something special and to leave it all behind was really hard. As much as I missed out on what we were setting up it turned out to be a great move. I was stoked with my time and Dandenong and Frankston but if I could’ve gone to St Kilda earlier I would’ve.
Q. You scored a century on your St Kilda debut, what was that like?
It was pretty cool. I’ve scored plenty of 100’s, taken plenty of 5-fa’s, but that was special. You’re in the changerooms with blokes like Graeme Rummans, James Muirhead, they play hard, they play tough and couldn’t care about anyone not on their team. It was just extraordinary looking across the changeroom to see Graeme Rummans padding up. I came in at 3-10 chasing 215 and thought ‘ah shit here we go again,’ and just tried to save the game. To hit the winning runs and finish not out and walk into that change room, it’s surreal.
Matt Chasemore batting for St Kilda
Q. You had a strong desire to play first class cricket, why’d you move back to Cranbourne the year after scoring an 83 in Vic 2nd XI?
Over in Perth after the game I was told they were no longer going to look at me as an option to play higher level cricket. That’s the main reason you play Premier cricket, you have that desire to go one step further. I was getting old, I had hip problems, all kinds of problems with my body. I’d given up so much to play cricket and pursue my dream, I’d missed countless weddings, birthdays, events, it was time to move on and let the next kid pursue his passion. The travel took its toll as well, driving an hour and 45 minutes to and from training, I was getting home at midnight on Thursday. It was a good time to go back to where it all began.
Q. Tell us about the epic 2015/16 grand final against Springvale South and what the win meant to you?
Jarrod Armitage always reminds me he got me out in the first innings, I think he took 7, I have to keep reminding him that we won the match. It’s a strange feeling losing a grand final on first innings but having so much time left. I remember sitting in the changerooms after we lost and Spolly (Steve Spolijaric) saying, “Time for a beer.” I just said, “Mate, we owe it to the club, we owe it to the supporters, to at least have a crack, we’ve got to have a crack.” He just went, “That’s fine, but I’m not bowling.” We had belief, some teams sit there and say we can win this game, we believed we could win the game. Especially when you have me and Spolly on the team, that’s like having four players in two. I think I ended up opening the bowling but we started taking a few wickets and funnily enough Spolly wanted to have a bowl. We were a very good T20 team then, we rarely lost a T20, and we knew if we could get it to needing 200 runs off 20 overs we were a genuine chance, we got it to 170 runs off 27 overs. We did a lot of planning with the batting lineup before the innings, and we wanted to have one aggressor and one defender. Eventually me and Spolly were batting together, I can’t imagine what everyone else was thinking, two of the weirdest units out there trying to win a premiership. He said, “you get me on strike and I’ll win the game for us.” I’d hit about 16 singles and a four when he got out, he looks at me and goes, “They let you get in, now finish the job.” I think I hit the next ball for six onto Cheltenham road. I hit a four to win the game and it’s amazing, celebrating with guys like Stuart Plunkett who were my idols when I was 15,16. It was unbelievable to win it in my first year back too.
Cranbourne celebrating the Turf 1 premiership
Q. Cranbourne had just won a DDCA Turf 1 premiership and a CV Regional Big Bash and you and Steve Spolijaric were dominating, what was the reason for you two leaving the club?
I can’t speak for Spolly but cricket was his job and I’m going to say it was a career move for him. I probably shouldn’t answer this, but it was a personnel thing with the club, and I didn’t have that social enjoyment anymore, so it was best for me to move on.
Q. You and Spolijaric shared a lot of great memories at Cranbourne, what was it like coming up against him for the next two seasons?
It was pretty good, I see him differently to how everyone else sees him. He’s a good character and an unbelievable cricketer. 20 years ago, we definitely would’ve clashed heads. When I come up against him, whether I’m bowling to him or he’s bowling to me I just back the things I’ve learnt and hope I come out on top. It’s good fun, I love playing and testing myself against the best and I don’t play with any malice.
Q. Before you came to Berwick in 2017, you spoke about a potential move back to St Kilda for a late crack at a First Class opportunity, why didn’t that happen and how’d you end up at Berwick?
Every year, I thought about going back and having another crack. I’m a big thinker and I think all the time, my brain ticks over like I’m a 20 year old but I had lots of problems with my body. My head wanted to do it but I’m a realist and realistically I wasn’t up to it physically. It wasn’t just first class, but shorter forms of the game. Someone, who I won’t name, spoke to me about getting a manager and having a crack at the Big Bash. I had a young family to look after, I had a business, I had injuries and I made a realistic decision. A part of me did want to go back to St Kilda and find what I’d lost in enjoyment, but the thought of the travel again was too much. Nathan Pilon got in contact with me about Berwick, if he tells me it’s a good club, I know it’s a good club and I made a mature decision.
Q. You’ve had a long career and experienced a lot of different clubs, how have you found Berwick?
It’s been really good. I’ll always try to be the best player on my team no matter if it’s the best team or the worst team, I always try to be the best, develop players if I can, that’s just me. The club had the things I was looking for like hanging out with mates. There’s Pilo (Nathan Pilon) who’s the best man alive. Will Carr, who trains like a professional and is a big believer in work ethic. The club already had it’s own great, hardworking culture of getting things done. The main reason you play is to win premierships and along the way you want to make some good mates, I’ve made about 50 or 60 good cricket mates over my career and Berwick was no exception. My young fella loves the club, being around and always wants to get down there which is really important to me too.
Q. You were lucky enough to win two CV Regional Big Bash’s in three years, what’s it like winning a tournament on the MCG and was it just as good the second time around?
It definitely was just as good. As a kid you dream and have goals of playing on the MCG. I’d played there before in a warmup game against the Melbourne Stars. Personally, it’s just unbelievable seeing boys who would never get the opportunity to play on the MCG and seeing them just loving every second of it. When I came to the club one thing I was big on was taking T20’s seriously, they’re not always taken seriously in local cricket. I just told the boys, that if we win 10 T20s, the eleventh is on the MCG. It’s also cool to test yourself and play against the second best T20 team in Victoria. I told Jordy Cleland, who played with me at Cranbourne, not many guys get this opportunity, let alone two, so make the most of it. There were big celebrations when we won and all I wanted to do was celebrate but unfortunately it was on a Tuesday and I had to get up for work the next day. The best part is captaining the boys, seeing the enjoyment on Goodesy’s face, the huge smile Browny had all day, Brendan Rose bowling quick and loving it. It’s pretty cool.
Q. The DDCA Turf 1 grand final was cancelled due to coronavirus, how’d you find out you were the premiers and what was that moment like?
I was driving to training on Tuesday and I got a text from Will saying we’d won it. I tried to ring about 900 people in 8 seconds. Years ago, Nick Jewell told me not to give anyone an opportunity, tick every box and things will fall in your favour. We beat Buckley (Ridges) when Pilo was filling in, and I clearly remember a supporter after the game said to me, “It doesn’t matter we’ll play you again in a few weeks, and you won’t have Pilo.” I don’t know why but those words stuck with me and were a real driving force inside of me. It did matter because we finished on top because of that game. Every game matters. At the end of the day, we were the top seed, we won the first final, we’ve only lost about five games in two years and the feeling was no different to when you take that final wicket.
Q. You played with Will Carr for Dandenong 20 odd years now you two are the captain and coach of a DDCA Turf 1 premiership, have you kept in touch over the years or was it just a coincidence that you both ended up at Berwick?
No it was a total coincidence. There’s a funny story actually, when we played together at Dandenong I was 1st slip and I grassed a few off his bowling. Remember, I was this 17, 18 year old kid and Will was this big fast opening bowler at the peak of his powers. Anyway, I drop a few and at one point he just goes, “What the f*** is this bloke doing in 1st slip, get him out of there!” I spent the rest of the day at fine leg and remember feeling like the smallest person alive. I wasn’t a big fan of Will’s at the time and we weren’t mates or anything over the years. We came to Berwick at the same time and had the same beliefs about attitude, work ethic and preparation. I taught him the shorter forms of the game which he’d never experienced, and he taught me about being level headed and communication. We’re both cricket nuffies and get on really well now.
Will Carr (left) and Matt Chasemore (right) celebrate Berwick's Turf 1 premiership
Q. You dominated premier cricket for a number of years and didn’t do much wrong in limited state 2nd XI opportunities, do you feel like you were hard done by to never get an opportunity at first class level?
No not at all. I always did what I was told to do and worked hard and if I’m not good enough I’m not good enough. There’s no hard feelings, maybe I could’ve made it but there’s 50 blokes with the same story that say the same thing. There’s 10 other blokes exactly like me and it’s hard to argue who gets picked. It’s easy for everyone to sit back and criticise and scrutinise Victoria’s selections but they keep winning premierships so they’re doing something right. I did average 77 for Vic 2nd XI, maybe if I got 120 not out and won the last match I played instead of getting 83 and losing. Maybe that was the difference between getting dropped and playing Shield next week. I got the best out of limited skill and I wasn’t a full time cricketer like plenty of other people, I worked my whole life. Maybe if I was in a different era, but I have no regrets and no one to blame. I’m happy with everything I achieved and now its time to start academies and give the next generation opportunities I never had.
Q. How did the standard of state 2nd XI compare to Victorian Premier Cricket?
I believe it’s a fair step up, not skill wise but in the pace of the game. Blokes can score non-stop, Daniel Hughes smacked 200 in a day against one of the best bowling attacks I’ve seen. In Premier cricket blokes don’t do that because no one can just take the game on all day like he did. In premier cricket you face Dirk Nannes but then the little 120km/h mediums like me come on and you get a break. In state 2nd XI there’s no break, everyone’s Dirk Nannes.
Q. How does the standard of DDCA Turf 1 compare to Victorian Premier Cricket?
The big difference is fitness, the skill in Turf 1 is there to match it with the best in Premier Cricket, they just can’t maintain that level for long enough. I’m a firm believer that Turf 1 is the best local comp going around, look at the Regional Big Bash there’s always a team from the DDCA deep in the tournament or winning it, in preseason we belt teams from other leagues. Berwick could probably beat the bottom 6 teams in Premier firsts on their day. We would be able to compete with the best teams, just not for long enough.
Q. What was the most challenging aspect of premier cricket for you?
For me the big challenge was providing ambition to reality. My ambition to play state level cricket was so high and I was looking three steps ahead rather than one. It was challenging to stay grounded and when you’re talking to sponsors it’s easy to look too far ahead to quickly.
Q. What was your favourite part of playing premier cricket?
My favourite part was the challenges, I was just a battler trying to make it. Concentrating for hours on end, trying to outthink, be fitter, be stronger, than everyone. I loved rocking up to training and running a 5km time trial. I enjoyed becoming friends with some seriously good sportsmen and competing with seriously good sportsmen. It’s pretty cool to shake hands with David Hussey after a game and have little chats with people you would never otherwise meet. I had a good chat with Justin Langer once after my 2nd XI game in WA.
Q. You’ve scored a lot of centuries and half centuries, which ones stand out to you as your finest innings?
Geez, that’s a tough one. I’d have to say, unfortunately, it was in a losing semi final against Fitzroy-Doncaster for Dandenong. Warren Ayres had torn his calf in the week leading up to the game, we were pretty undermanned. Dirk Nannes was bowling 150 clicks all day, I carried my bat right the way through, I faced the first ball and the last ball. My arm got broken in the first few overs and it was buggered, I remember walking in at drinks and my batting mentor was telling me to get inside and pull him. I tried a few times and they started coming off but I wore a fair few, at the end of the day my arm was black and blue and all cut up, I was probably hit 30 times. When the game was over I remember talking to Dirk Nannes and he had this smile on his face, he said it was one of the best knocks he’d ever seen, he was amazed that he hit me so many times and I was still standing.
Q. Early in your career you were known as more of a gritty opener that didn’t play many shots, did you always want to change that perception or was it just a natural progression of your development?
Early on I didn’t know any different, I was just focused on not getting out every week. Nick Jewell, he ran trainings like no one else. It wasn’t just about hitting balls, it was about balance, timing, mindset. He trained me to hit try and hit every ball for four or six, not just block it. My mindset transitioned under him, I would be thinking about how I could hit the next ball for four or six not how I could stop it from getting me out.
Matt Chasemore batting for Berwick
Q. You’ve played with a lot of great cricketers over your career, can you pick an XI of the best players you’ve played with?
First off, I’m picking two wicketkeepers, Nathan Pilon and Damon Rowan. They’re going to have to share the gloves and do half a match each. They’re in for different reasons, Pilo for his exceptional batting and Damo for his ability to win matches. Darren Pattinson and Darren Groves are taking the new ball, apologies to James Miller who just misses out on the new rock and is coming on first change. Dave Newman is going to be my fourth seaming all rounder option. Jon Holland will be my spinner, James Muirhead is 12th man just in case he gets injured. Muirhead’s one of the best spinners I’ve seen, very unlucky to miss out. Opening the batting I’ve got Ben Nicholson and Graeme Rummans, although he wasn’t an opening batsman. At three we’ve got Warren Ayres, at four Nick Jewell and I’d love to have myself at five but I’m going to say Tim Hooper.
Nathan Pilon/Damon Rowan
James Muirhead (12th)
Q. Across your career who were your biggest influencers or mentors?
I could reel off heaps and I’ll try not to forget anyone. There’s Brendan McArdle, he was the first famous cricketer I came across. Des Nolan, he was the curator and very passionate, we never had a chat one on one but I always listened from afar. Warren Ayres, he had a massive impact on me and he’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. There’s Nick Speak. Nick Jewell, he had the biggest impact on my cricket, he was a wise, understanding teammate and captain, he jokes if I never met him I’d be nothing. Adrian Jones, you always did as you were told under him. Greg Shipperd, I always listened if he was speaking on TV or anything, I desperately wanted to play for him. Bruce Waldron, I respect him so highly, he was a massive part of my career and life, he drove me to be the best.
Q. Looking back on your career is there anything you’d do differently?
It’s hard to say, at my age I know more than when I was young. I only knew what I knew, so no.
Q. What is your proudest moment as a cricketer?
My proudest moments are more to do with everybody else, I always loved everyone else’s success. What I’m proudest of is having a little mini-me running around with the same drive and passion I had. I reckon he’s one of the best 13 year olds I’ve seen and watching him play, understand and love the game makes me proud.