Nineteen years ago today Joey Field arrived on this earth to a lot of pomp and glory at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton — hands clenched in a fist and clearing his lungs just 10 minutes into December 19 — but, ironically, punctuating that personal milestone hasn't been a priority for him for the best part of this year.
Only this week has the Hawke's Bay cricketer started entertaining thoughts of his birthday after helping see through the Central Districts' campaign during the men's national under-19 tourney at Lincoln, near Christchurch, last week.
But Field certainly came of age, as it were, when New Zealand Under-19 men's coach, Paul Wiseman, ushered him into his final muster for the World Cup in South Africa early next year.
"It was pretty awesome to hear my name called out," says Field after the squad of 15 was announced at the prizegiving ceremony to mark the end of the tourney on Sunday.
His good mate, Jesse Tashkoff, of Wellington was named captain.
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"It was cool to have dad down there at the tournament to hear my name called out [because] it's been a goal of mine for a number of years," he says of parents Raewyn and Steve who will travel to South Africa to watch him play and to whom he's indebted to for coming this far.
"They've never been to South Africa and neither have I so it's going to be a new experience and one that I'll remember forever."
No doubt Field has grappled with his share of injury demons over that duration, testing his resolve in his quest to carve a career in the country's No 1 summer sport.
While the "Baby Caps" is often seen as a precursor to going on to higher the higher echelons of cricket-dom he echoes the sentiments selectors have drummed into the chosen ones — it isn't necessarily a ticket to first-class cricket although there's sufficient footprints to reinforce a succession path to becoming a New Zealand men's international representative.
However, it isn't lost on Field it is a pivotal stepping stone on a demanding journey for someone who is becoming accustomed to pushing the speed gun to 138kmh at Lincoln.
The Sir Edmund Hillary scholarship recipient, who is pursuing a degree in human performance science and psychology at Waikato University, was on a limited workload as a strike bowler at his second nationals because he is returning from a side strain.
"I only ended up getting one wicket but it was quite nice for me to step back to kind of play a different role so I ended up being a specialist batter at No 7," he says with a chuckle after CD finished runners-up to Auckland who retained their bragging rights.
He got CD out of trouble with a half century as well as another 30-odd in the week-long tourney, while having a two-day break from bowling in the limited-overs matches before rolling his arm in the twenty20 format.
"I think the key was to just get the overs under my belt before the World Cup comes up to prove to the coaches that I'm fit enough to go to South Africa."
Field, who is here to spend Christmas with his family, has been bowling at Nelson Park, Napier, "every second day" to maintain his fitness. He thanks his mates who catch and fetch balls.
"I'll spend Christmas here before my two brothers head off to the Boxing Day test match [in Melbourne]," he says of older brothers Sam and James who will watch the most anticipated second test after the Black Caps lost heavily in Perth.
Field made his last appearance for his Reynard Health Supplies Havelock North premier men's club side last weekend before jetting off with the Baby Caps on Monday, December 30.
Before that, he'll spend four days with a "very close friend" at northern Coromandel to enable him to switch off cricket before the intensity takes hold when they arrive at Durban, via Dubai, to eventually camp at Bloemfontein.
They'll play a quadrangular 50-over series against the hosts, Bangaldesh and India before two official warm-up matches starting on January 3.
The NZ U19s play Japan first up at the Northwest University Oval at Potchefstroom on January 18.
He'll be back comfortably in time to pursue his university studies.
The former Hastings Boys' High School first XI captain is indebted to private batting coach Dan Harper who used to coach him at HBHS as a teacher in the junior years before moving up to St Paul's College in Hamilton.
He also hails Central Districts stalwart Scott Briasco for honing his batting skills and Hawke's Bay Cricket administrator Craig Ross, also of Napier, in bowling.
It was heartache for Field club mate, Will Clark, who missed out after touring with the NZ U19s in Australia last winter.
"I told him that this doesn't define you as a cricketer so you can still go on to make that first-class cricket to go all the way so it's up to you, really," he says of the 17-year-old, final-year Hastings Christian High School pupil.
In a press statement, Wiseman is optimistic about his side's chances.
"These boys should be proud of their selection in the U19 side but they will know the hard work is ahead of them," says Wiseman. "We saw how strong the Bangladesh U19 side were that toured here recently and we're expecting a highly competitive World Cup."
The former Black Cap says global stars often emerge from the tournament.
"We'll have to be at our best if we want to compete against the best in the world."
Wiseman says culling the squad was an unenviable challenge for him and the selectors.
"Naturally there's going to be some disappointed players but that's just part of cricket. We'll have conversations with those who have missed out and, as has been proven in the past, this is by no means the end of their cricketing journey."
NZ Cricket general manager high performance Bryan Stronach said the side's part of a pathway, as opposed to an end goal in itself.
"Ultimately, from a high performance perspective, this is about growing future Black Caps and selection in this team is just one step on that journey," says Stronach, emphasising the tourney has the propensity to boost players' cricketing IQ.
"This is a chance for the group to learn more about themselves as cricketers."
NZ U19s: Jesse Tashkoff (c, Wellington), Adithya Ashok (Auckland), Kristian Clarke (ND), Hayden Dickson (ND), Joey Field (CD), David Hancock (ND), Simon Keene (Auckland), Fergus Lellman (ND), Nicholas Lidstone (Canterbury), Rhys Mariu (Canterbury), William O'Rourke (Auckland), Ben Pomare (ND), Quinn Sunde (Auckland), Beckham Wheeler-Greenall (Otago), Oliver White (ND).
Standby players: Angus Sidey (Canterbury), Ryan Jackson (Wellington), Devan Vishvaka (Wellington), Lucas Dasent (Auckland), Tom Dunlop (Canterbury).