WIL PARKER sees himself in a win-win situation.
The 17-year-old is one of the country's most talented sporting youngsters, shaping as a possible first-round pick at this year's NAB AFL Draft.
But Parker is also an elite cricketer on the rise, having made his shock first-class debut for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield season last summer.
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Parker, who starred for the Eastern Ranges last season in the NAB League but bowls leg spin in the whites, knows he has a big decision to make.
"I've had a lot of time to think about it, and it's really a win-win situation to be honest," Parker told AFL.com.au.
"I can't see any negatives coming out of either, but I'll have to wait and see which one it is."
The recent downtime has given Parker plenty of time to consider his options.
After the domestic cricket season was cut short by the COVID-19 outbreak, Parker's hopes to establish his football credentials were then slashed when the NAB League was suspended indefinitely.
There has been no clarity about when Australia's premier under-18 competition will be back this season – if at all – and Parker admits the uncertainty has changed how he sees things.
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"It has, because obviously I haven't been able to play footy, so I don't know where I stand in the grand scheme of things," he said.
"I think people would say it's an easier choice to choose cricket because I don't know how good I am in footy.
"There is a bit of pressure because there isn't a lot of kids who have this choice, so I feel privileged and I feel very lucky.
"I feel like I can't lose, either way I'm going to be happy, it's just which one I choose. I'm still not quite sure which it is."
Football only emerged in recent years as an option for Parker, who shone last season as a 182cm rebounding defender.
He averaged 18 disposals in 16 games for the Ranges, and was one of their best players in the finals series, including gathering 27 disposals in their Grand Final loss to the Oakleigh Chargers.
"I was like always cricket, cricket, cricket but then I started playing well in footy and I had a good season last year and the decision got a bit harder," he said.
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He went almost straight from the half-back line to the nets, playing in the under-19 championships in December before impressing at premier cricket level for Monash Tigers.
Parker attended Vic Metro's talent hub before Christmas and was due to take part in the football program's January camp as well before being called up to play in Victoria's second XI cricket team.
Three weeks later, he was handed his first cap when he debuted for Victoria against New South Wales at the SCG – the home of the Swans, the team he has barracked for throughout his life.
"It was quite unreal, to be honest. It happened very fast," he said.
"I didn't actually know I was playing until the morning of the game, so I didn't get any sleep the night before because I was too nervous.
"But I walked into the rooms in the morning and [Victorian captain] Peter Handscomb said I was in.
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"I had my cap presentation on the ground with my mum and dad who were there and Peter Siddle gave me my cap which was special because I was rooming with him.
"We batted first so I didn't do much on the first day which was probably a good thing, and then I bowled on the second day and got a couple of wickets which was unreal, I couldn't believe it."
Parker, who has idolised Victorian leg-spinner and Australia's all-time leading wicket-taker Shane Warne, took four wickets in an impressive debut, including 3/54 in the first innings from 25 overs – the most for his team. He played again for the Vics in March before the season was called off.
Parker remains hopeful of getting some games in for the Ranges this season, having set himself to show recruiters more of his versatility and lock-down capabilities.
If he can, he's hoping to delay his big decision until later in the year, with a handy ally helping him through his though process.
His uncle is Geoff Parker, Port Adelaide's recruiting manager, who also juggled a football and cricket career, playing 37 first-class matches for Victoria and South Australia, and also three VFL games for Essendon.
"We had a sit down and a long chat about our options," Parker said. "He said I'm a good chance to get drafted, but it's down to whatever I want to do the most."