Date of Event Cricket Australia State Competitions: Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:00AM

TASMANIA’S Beau Webster had a decision to make in his teenage years.

AFL or cricket.

He chose the latter – and it’s a decision that has paid off, with the 22-year-old stamping himself as a player of the future with a brilliant knock of 79 for Australia A against India A last week in Brisbane.

Webster’s rise through the ranks started with Tasmanian Under-17s selection, and was followed by under-19s appearances, before playing Futures League and Sheffield Shield cricket.

The batting allrounder said the Pathways program helped him develop the skills he needed to succeed.

“I was fortunate to play quite a bit of Under-17 and Under-19 cricket with Tasmania. I think I played my first carnival when I was 15, so it gave me a good four or five years to play in the Under 19s, which was good experience,” he said.

“I think it’s just a great stepping stone into senior cricket with your club, and then also Futures League and Shield cricket. I suppose a lot of the guys who have played in the underage system are now contracted to a state and above, so it’s obviously a good stepping stone for higher honours.”

This year’s National Under-17 Male Championships kick off next week on the Sunshine Coast, with the Tasmanian a product of Cricket Australia’s Pathways Program, which has helped develop Australia’s cricketing talent for generations.

Webster still holds the record for the most runs by a Tasmanian at the Under-17 championships (367 in 2012-13).

He had a breakthrough Sheffield Shield season in 2015-16, cracking two centuries, and encouraged young players coming through the ranks to have confidence in their ability.

“Just back yourself,” Webster said.

“Back yourself that you’re good enough to play at the level you’re playing at and higher.

“You can listen to all the coaches and the players around you, but it comes down to you to back yourself and believe you’re good enough, and that’s half the battle.”

With another big summer ahead, Webster will be looking to take his own advice as he attempts to build on a Sheffield Shield season in which he scored 494 runs in eight matches at an average just shy of 33.

“I think it’s just going back to basics (that) really helped me,” Webster said.

“I went through a period of overcomplicating things in my technique, and then just trying to find out what worked for me and sticking to it whenever you go through a bad period.

“I had a good back half of the year (last season) – not the full year. I’d like to string a full season together, that’s my first goal.”