As his teammates and the sparse number of fans ascended the terraces in unison, Wyllie walked slowly toward batting partner Matt Kelly and finally, almost reluctantly, raised his bat.
“He [Wyllie] said, ‘tax accountants don’t celebrate when they file their tax returns, so I shouldn’t be celebrating scoring a hundred,'” chuckled WA captain Sam Whiteman, who spoke to ESPNcricinfo after the game. “He likes batting and is an impressive young man. He feels like he’s 28.”
While Wyllie’s reserved party brought joy to his teammates, it underscores his maturity beyond his age and should serve him well amid walking around as Australia’s next big hitter. He was the best in Australia at the Under-19 World Championship earlier this year and was named in the tournament’s most valuable team.
“A lot of the guys take me off because I didn’t take the helmet off, but I just don’t like the attention of it,” Wyllie told reporters in Perth on Friday.
“My old boy drove me in when you get a hundred that the job isn’t done. So I’ve never been a huge fan of continuing… because I’m just trying to get the team in a good position.”
His 104 from 204 masterclass saved WA from a precarious 100 for 6 as the No. 5 calmly tailed to lift his team to 258 and an invaluable lead of 78 runs in the first innings in the low-scoring game.
The tall Wyllie – who is over six feet tall – has come through the ranks as an opener and is already an intimidating figure in the fold, but his punching power is based on compact defense and looks to the long term. He may be a return to a more sedate time, though he can switch when needed. While more senior batters were undone through the seam and bounced on a tricky WACA field, Wyllie played straight and produced several standout drives on the ground.
“Test cricket is the goal and I believe it is the pinnacle when it comes to cricket,” he said. “I’ve always loved batting for a long time.”
It’s no surprise, then, to find out who he modeled his game on.
“I idolized Rahul Dravid growing up,” Wyllie said. “He values his wicket more than anyone. Growing up, I kind of modeled my game on him when it comes to valuing his wicket and hitting for long periods. Kane Williamson is another one of whom I try a lot to learn.”
Wyllie, who grew up in the regional town of Mandurah, less than an hour’s drive from Perth, has long been seriously committed to cricket and eschewed playing other sports competitively. It led to a “burnout” three years ago, but Wyllie has struck a better balance now that he’s embarking on his professional career and enjoys golfing and watching TV shows if he’s not carefully sharpening his game.
But his life has already started to change and get busier, as he soon realized when he received about 500 messages from friends and family after his Shield exploits.
Surrounded by a wealth of experience, including mentor Shaun Marsh, Wyllie has been given a very wise tip for coping with his growing stardom.
“I’ve talked to some older guys… they’ve done away with social media. I’m not there yet,” he said.
But you feel Wyllie will treat keyboard warriors the same way he dulls irritated bowlers.
“I don’t go to social media comments because it’s just white noise and it doesn’t matter that much,” he said. “I tend to stay out of the spotlight…I like hitting.”
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth
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