The Age (28/10/15)-
Adelaide hopes that providing Alex Keath with a fresh taste of a football club environment will inspire him to relaunch his promising junior career there next year.
The Crows have added Keath to their list as a category B rookie, even though cricket remains his priority and the motivation behind his recent move to South Australia.
The club will effectively fund his cricket career this summer, knowing that if it doesn’t work out and he decides he wants to play football, he will do so for them.
Alex Keath at age 17. Photo: Ken Irwin
Geelong similarly signed Mark Blicavs while he was still focused on making the 2012 Australian Olympic team, and he won the best and fairest award this year.
Keath, who lost his Cricket Victoria contract earlier this year, has begun playing district cricket for Prospect in the hope of earning another state contract.
Under the arrangement with Adelaide, he will have access to the club’s training facilities, physios, medical team, dietician and other staff.
The 23-year-old will be given a strength and conditioning program that the club thinks will either enhance his chances of making it in cricket, or give him a strong base should he return to football.
The club is happy to invest in Keath given the potential he showed as a young key position prospect, his strong character, and the fact that good key position players are hard to find.
Given his age, he will likely have to make a final decision on which sport he wants to pursue full-time at the end of summer.
Adelaide list manager Justin Reid said the Crows understood that cricket remained Keath’s priority, and that he was equally respectful of his chance to experience an elite training environment.
“He won’t be a part of our full-time program for now, and we know that cricket is the sport he wants to play. That’s his first option,” Reid said.
“What we’ll do is give him some support and some assistance so that if it gets to a point where football does become his No.1 commitment, he has a strong foundation and base to come in and play some state league footy for us next year.
“It’s an investment that could end up helping his cricket and if that happens we’d be really happy for him, but we think it’s a good investment for our footy club too.
“When you look through the draft it’s not easy to find tall defenders, and Alex is very respectful of what we’ve offered him and how things are going to work.”
Adelaide has been able to sign Keath directly given he has not been registered with a football club for more than three years.
He was initially listed by Gold Coast as a 17-year-old, but chose to take up a rookie contract with Cricket Victoria rather than play for the Suns.
The Crows were one of a number of teams interested in signing him, with many clubs keeping in regular contact with him over the years and most contacting his management after he lost his cricket contract in April.
The late Phil Walsh flew to Melbourne to meet with Keath before he flew to England for the winter to play league cricket. Recently, Keath has chatted with new coach Don Pyke about how his program will work.
The Crows had already signed Perth Wildcats basketballer Hugh Greenwood, who played junior state football for Tasmania before going to college in the US, under the same rules.