Footy pre-season? It’s just not cricket
When the sun is out over summer, Alex Keath misses cricket.
Three years on from his AFL debut, the new Western Bulldogs defender admits the pull from his other sporting passion remains strong during the warmer months when footy pre-season is in full swing.
But the 28-year-old former Victorian and Melbourne Stars all-rounder said he did not regret the decision he made to eventually follow the AFL path.
"I do (miss cricket) a bit, particularly in the summer when we're doing plenty of training out on the track and plenty of running sessions and things," Keath said.
"It's nice to watch the odd game. Now that I'm back in Melbourne I played at Melbourne Cricket Club for a long time and I've still got some friends playing there, so it's good to get down and have a look at the games.
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"I don't have any regrets about coming back to footy at all. I think the writing was on the wall cricket-wise, I had given it a good crack. It was time to do something different."
After four years - and 30 games - while on the Adelaide Crows' list, it was time to do something different on the footy front, too.
The Shepparton product could see the "younger" direction the Crows wanted to take and was eager for a "fresh start at a new club".
He had been courted by both St Kilda and the Bulldogs, but was sold on the defensive role Bulldogs could offer him with a deal finalised in the last half-hour of the 2019 trade period.
"It was just a really good opportunity for me, it worked well for all parties," Keath said.
"The Crows were looking to get a bit younger and I was fortunate that the Bulldogs saw a position for me where I might be able to add something to their group.
"I think I will probably get a bit more responsibility at the Dogs, so that's exciting to me.
"It was a difficult decision, but I am really happy now that I'm here."
Keath arrived at the Kennel in rehab mode after off-season ankle surgery, which was recommended by the Bulldogs rather than the non-surgical recovery the Crows had planned, after medicals with the backman.
He said the surgery had given him "more certainty around recovery" to put him in the best position to be ready for Round 1 this year.
Keath suited up in the opening round against Collingwood, but hasn't been the greatest on-field welcome for the former Crow with the Bulldogs thumped in the opening two rounds.
But he is settling into his new role and confident the wheel will turn.
"I've had a couple of matches now that haven't gone to plan, but I'm sure that we will be able to turn things around and give our supporters some more pleasing results," Keath said.
"I want to settle into that backline and build some really good chemistry so we can be rock solid down there."
Keath enjoyed his best season last year, playing 18 games for the Crows, but he is confident he still has plenty of growth in his game.
"I'm learning new things and I guess the best thing about going to a new team is the challenges that it presents," Keath said.
"There is parts of my game that my eyes have been opened to in terms of looking to improve and get better and areas that I haven't focused on in the past.
"I learned some great things at Adelaide and built a really great foundation with my game. I'm really enjoying those new challenges and new ideas from the coaches that I have got at the Dogs and trying to build on that foundation."
Originally published as Footy pre-season? It's just not cricket