5 Things I Have Learnt Playing Club Cricket in the UK
Some of you may have noticed that I have been slightly absent from the ACI scene these last few months, and that is because I have been over in the UK spending the northern hemisphere summer working on my game. Unsurprisingly, cricket over here is vastly different from that in Australia, and throughout this article, I am going to dissect some of the contrasts I have personally found most interesting.
Let’s start off with my statistics:
It would be fair to say that I haven’t exactly set the world on fire… In 20 innings I have scored between 35 and 74 runs on 9 occasions. This failure to convert starts has largely affected my personal average and overall ability to win games for the team. So with that in mind, let’s have a look at some key takeaways from this experience.
1. Club Cricket in the UK is Dominated by Spin Bowling
As an Aussie playing his first season in the UK, this is certainly not what I expected! When I think of English conditions, I think of green seamers and low bouncing wickets, perfect for the quicks… How wrong I was. The majority of 1’st teams in the Hertfordshire Premier League (my league) are made up of similar line-ups that often look something like this:
- 2 medium pacers to take the new ball (the odd medium/quick)
- 3 main spinners
- 2 part-time spinning/all-rounders
This is something that I found extremely difficult to adapt to, and found myself getting bogged down after a relatively fast start. The soft balls in conjunction with slow pitches made it difficult to hit spinners back over their heads, as I am accustomed to back home. This was often where I would lose my wicket, with a distinctive trend of being caught at mid-off and mid-on forming.
While this continued to trouble me throughout my time here, It forced me to develop new ways of playing spin and I can honestly say I am beginning to feel much more comfortable at the crease (still without a big score to my name)
2. Training – What’s That?
Now, I am not going to lie, this is one aspect of my time in the UK that I really haven’t adapted well to. I had always heard that club training in the UK wasn’t as big as it is back home, however, I did not expect there to be any training at all. Yes, I understand some clubs over here do train, however, the club that I am at (Potters Bar CC) did not.
As someone who is accustomed to hitting balls at least 3 times a week, this was a massive shift for me personally. I found myself constantly searching for a training partner, however, I struggled greatly as my teammates either worked full time or lived light years away (slight exaggeration, however, it was a long way!). While I didn’t necessarily feel out of form over here, I am positive that the lack of training and effort to combat the new conditions I was faced with had a large impact on my ability to score big runs.
3. Premier Club Cricket in Australia Is Much More Intense
This may sound ironic coming from a player who is averaging 27 over here, however it is quite well known that the overall standard of Premier Cricket in Australia is far superior. There are a number of things I put this down to;
- More first-class teams (18 in the UK compared to 6 in Australia) dilute talent throughout club cricket
- More Premier Leagues around the UK
- Less emphasis on training/fitness
- Conditions allowing players to play for longer
While my current team at Potters Bar is stacked with talent, the lack of preparation and emphasis on the little things has a rather large impact on the overall standard of cricket. Warm-ups are far less official, tactics in the field are not as emphasised and as I have already mentioned, not many players are actually working on their skills. In saying that, some of the batting that has been on display this season has been simply unbelievable… Highlighted by our number 3 breaking the all-time league runs record.
4. The Social Aspect of the Game is Far Superior in the UK
Here is where UK club cricket gets one back on the Aussies! While we may put more emphasis on the actual game back home, we simply don’t even compete on a social front.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the many hours I have spent down at Potters Bar CC; it truly does feel like a massive family down there. On a hot summer's day, people flock down to the club to socialise and watch a day's cricket, and this is something that I have not witnessed as much in Australia. The games also seem to have a much more friendly vibe to them, with the lack of intensity allowing for a more friendly atmosphere on the pitch (most of the time).
The hospitality off the field is another great attribute of cricket in the UK, with the English being famous for their lunch and teas. I was lucky enough at Potters Bar to be one of the only clubs in my league to do teas, and as a massive food junkie, I was very grateful - Thank you, Carole! The English certainly do a lot of things on this front that I believe we could learn from back home, and the social front is something I will miss greatly when I land back in Australia.
5. I Could Not Recommend the Experience Highly Enough
To all Aussie cricketers, of all capabilities, you must put a season in the UK on your bucket list. Throughout my (nearly) 4 months here, I have experienced the many highs, and many lows that come with playing cricket on the other side of the world. It has not always been easy to be away from loved ones, however, the ability to learn about yourself both on and off the field is unparalleled.
Author: Josh Matthews
As a coach here in uk I find the lack of practice so frustrating.
Other points are all correct especially around playing in later years as opposed to being a young persons game