HE WAS once teammates with the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Aaron Finch.
And now Guy Walker will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Nathan Jones, Jack Viney and Max Gawn, after he was secured by Melbourne as a category B rookie.
Walker, 22, will officially join the club on November 1 in the lead-up to the 2019 AFL season.
Before this date, he will only be able to complete a limited number of AFL approved sessions with the club. And he will not be able to train with the AFL squad.
Walker will be Melbourne’s second category B rookie for the 2019 season, after Austin Bradtke – the son of former Australian basketballer Mark – was claimed via the same rule earlier in the year.
Walker said he was delighted to reignite his football career with Melbourne.
“I’ve gone down the rookie B route in the last few months and I’ve just been trying to find the best place to where I might get a decent opportunity and develop my footy,” he told Melbourne Media.
“It actually happened through [pro scout and player contract manager] Tim Lamb calling me up, and my best mate Joel Smith put a few words in there as well, so it’s been a hectic few weeks for me.
“I’m happy to be part of the Melbourne footy club.”
Born in Nottingham, England, Walker moved from the United Kingdom when he was five years old to Malaysia, where his father Lyndsay, who played first-class cricket for Nottinghamshire, become coach of the Malaysian cricket team.
For the record, Lyndsay, who was born in Armidale, New South Wales, moved from Australia to England in 1992. He made his first-class cricket debut for Nottinghamshire against the touring South Africans in 1994.
But during the 1997-98 off-season, Lyndsay suffered a serious hand injury. The incident occurred while conducting a coaching clinic for school children. But after several operations he was forced to retire, ending his career with 12 first-class games to his name.
Lyndsay then coached Malaysia to the 2001 ICC Trophy in Canada – a qualifying tournament in the lead-up to the 2003 ICC World Cup.
At age six, the Walkers moved to Melbourne, where Guy has lived since. It was at “seven or eight years old” when he got his first taste of Aussie rules.
“I went from Malaysia to Australia, and my mates, when I was at primary school, convinced me to start playing footy. I just saw this big oval footy and thought ‘what is that?’ I started kicking it around like a soccer ball and it took me a while to get used to it and bounce the ball,” Walker said.
Walker played junior football with Maribyrnong Park – and best mate and now teammate again, Joel Smith – and then under 16s with Calder Cannons, before he was offered a contract with Cricket Victoria.
But as often is the case for talented young sportspeople, Walker was forced to choose one sport in his late teens. He opted for cricket, ahead of Australian rules.
Walker after signing for the club (Photo: Darcy O'Loghlen)
“I had to make the decision when I was 17 and I made the cricket route,” he said.
Walker become a fast bowling, all-rounder, with Victoria Premier Cricket club Footscray-Edgewater and was a member of the Victorian Bushrangers squad for five years.
He also spent a year as a rookie with Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League and had three years at the Melbourne Renegades.
It was with the Renegades where he played his one Twenty20 match – against the Brisbane Heat in Brisbane, December 2015. He played in a victorious team, but his debut was a tough one, as he finished with the figures of 0/47 off three overs, as first change bowler.
“My last game for the Renegades was when Chris Lynn was bludgeoning me all over the attack for 15 [runs] and over. It’s not a great memory my last game, but it’s good to be back in footy – I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
“I played with [West Indian cricketers] Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, so it was an amazing experience for me and I was lucky enough to play a game.
“[Gayle] is the most chilled out bloke I’ve ever played with and when Chris Lynn was smashing me all over the park, he (Gayle) was the comforting factor in it. He told me to back myself in and keep bowling.”
Although he remained with the Renegades until the end of the 2017-18 BBL season, Walker has had to contend with his share of injuries in recent years.
“Unfortunately, a few years ago, I came back from shoulder surgery, which didn’t go well, so I needed another one last year, so I didn’t play cricket for about three years,” he said.
“I made a decision at the end of last year to come back to footy, so fingers crossed I’ll get the body right and get it all right.”
Walker said the opportunity to play at the top level – along with playing and seeing the development of Smith – clinched the deal to play at Melbourne.
“It’s been amazing for me to watch Melbourne … just seeing the culture and the development coaches, it’s a pretty amazing thing,” he said.
“The decision to stay in Melbourne was also a factor, so I’m looking forward to getting started now.”
With a few months before he officially becomes a Demon, Walker said his immediate aim was to get his body right, as he starts his new career.
“It’ll just be nice to have a year without any injuries,” he said.
“Fingers crossed that I do everything I can to get my body right and have a kick of the footy. [I] just [want to] develop as much as I can.”