Shingler aims to claim new Australian scalps
There are few, if any, international rugby players who can claim to have taken Ricky Ponting's wicket during an indoor net session, or bowled to current Australia captain Michael Clarke for that matter.
Aaron Shingler has been there and done that, although in Cardiff on Saturday he will be wearing number six against the Wallabies rather than looking to hit Australia's cricketers for six. The Aldershot-born flanker only turned to rugby after being released by Glamorgan in 2007.
It was while on England Under-19s duty seven years ago that Shingler had a day to remember when Australia's cricketers turned up at Sophia Gardens for practice. "Ricky Ponting is a legend, and I was lucky enough to bowl at him. I am sure I actually took his wicket in the indoor nets," Shingler, a former medium-fast bowler, said.
"He nicked it, and although it might not have carried I will always claim it. The Australians were warming up for a one-day game, and I bowled to Michael Clarke as well.
"As a youngster, my dream was to play in an Ashes series. I used to love watching guys like Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee bowl, but I am playing at the Millennium Stadium against the Aussies now. This is my chance to show what I can do, so I've got to go out there on Saturday and make sure I do well."
Shingler, 25, has proved a key figure in Wales' autumn Test squad, providing priceless versatilty as a back-row and second-row operator. He went on for stricken lock Bradley Davies just two minutes into the game against New Zealand, acquitting himself well, and has now been preferred to former Wales captain Ryan Jones at blindside flanker.
"It was a bit of a shock to be on so early," added Shingler, who was summoned from the bench after Davies was floored by All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore, an incident that resulted in Hore being cited and then banned for five weeks.
"I hadn't even sat down after facing the Haka, and then the next thing I knew I was back on the field. It happened so fast. Looking back, I was reasonably happy with my performance. There are things I can improve on, which I will hopefully do this weekend.
"I didn't know if I would be starting this week, on the bench or not involved, so to get the nod to start was obviously a great feeling, and hopefully I can make the most of that opportunity. I am hoping to bring a good line-out option, some energy to our attack, to try to get the ball in space and make some dents in their defence.
"When you put the Wales jersey on and the adrenalin is pumping, I think you automatically step it up another level."