Five years ago, after being consistently overlooked by the selectors in his home state, New South Wales, Nathan Ellis moved to Tasmania despite having no job nor any guarantee that he would get to play.
Cut to the present, the 27-year-old has been on a dream ride. First, was named as one of three Australian reserve players for the upcoming T20 World Cup. Then he bagged an IPL contract. He followed it with a stunning hat-trick on international debut against Bangladesh in Dhaka.
On Saturday, Ellis made his IPL debut and impressed everyone with his impressive skills. Playing for Punjab Kings, Ellis held his nerve in the last over, executed his yorkers to perfection and helped his team to register a five-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Having been told repeatedly in his younger days that he was too short to be a fast bowler at the top level, he’s established himself as arguably the best death bowler in the Big Bash League and might went on to play for Australia in the upcoming T20 World Cup, which will be played in the UAE in October and November.
Speaking to the Punjab Kings official website, the Australian pacer opened up about his struggles to pursue his cricketing dream.
“When I was 22, I moved from New South Wales to Tasmania to try and pursue a cricketing dream. I didn’t have a contract then, and I was moving out of home for the first time, so there were a lot of expenses that came with it,” said Ellis.
“I had 5-6 different jobs back then to try and pay the bills. I started with some landscaping work, but I had to quit that because they wanted me to work Saturdays and that’s when the cricket was on,” recalls Ellis.
“I did some furniture removal and furnishing as well, but I had to leave that too because it clashed with my match days. I also did some construction work but that was too hard on the body, so I had to give that up as well,” he added.
Ellis had to wake up at 6 am to finish his gym sessions, juggle his work shifts shrewdly so as to fit in his training sessions with the Tasmanian team reserves as well.
The seamer recalls how he sometimes worked for days on end without a break, all this while diligently sticking to his gym and net schedules as well.
“Looking back, I don’t even know how I managed to fit everything together. It was a tough few years where I was getting fired from a lot of different jobs and working lots of different shifts,” recalled Ellis.
Thoughts of quitting cricket
After giving absolutely everything to chase his dream of playing cricket, Ellis was not able to break into the Tasmania state team. At one point, he even thought of quitting cricket, the sport he loved the most.
“I had played two seasons in Tasmania, and I did really well in grade level cricket, but I hadn’t received an opportunity in the state team,” said the 27-year-old.
“I was sort of thinking that I needed to go back home, I wasn’t saving any money, I wasn’t really building a career, so it was time to start the next chapter of my life,” he added.
Grabbed the opportunities with both hands
Nathan Ellis was persuaded to stay on for another year by Tasmania coach Adam Griffith. The former Australian cricketer asked Ellis to train the entire pre-season with the Tasmanian team.
“I told Griffith, I’m done, I can’t do another season here. I’m not making any money. But he sort of coaxed me into staying, and I just thought about one more year! And that turned out to be my breakout year. It all happened really quickly from there on, with my call up to Tasmania and the Big Bash contract,” said Ellis.
Ellis grabbed the opportunity with both hands and, since then, he has never looked back.
“I sort of look back at that moment and think what could have been had I not stayed for one more year in Tasmania. My bags were packed, I was ready to go home. So I look back now and think, Wow! What a good decision I made,” he signed off.
Nathan Ellis is a journeyman in a true sense. His journey is a great story of perseverance and commitment to the cause.