Journalist Stuart Appleby interviews English Cricket’s Test and One-Day International Captain, Alastair Cook.
England’s record-breaking and most prolific batsman visited Harrow Town Cricket Club on Friday (5th April 2013) to help the Club get its facilities ready for the start of the new season as part of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s NatWest CricketForce (NWCF) initiative.
The annual three-day grassroots scheme, running for the 12th year in succession, saw tens of thousands of volunteers spruce up over 2,000 cricket clubs in the UK over the weekend of 5-7th April.
Harrow Town CC have been selected as this year’s ECB showcase club and were paid a special visit by Cook, as well as Mayor of London Boris Johnson and England women’s cricket captain Charlotte Edwards, to celebrate the Club’s achievements (see Stuart’s ITV News Online article).
After rewriting the history books with his team in India over the winter and clinching a dramatic Test series draw against New Zealand, Cook relished the chance to take some time out and see for himself the strong grassroots foundations which English cricket is built on.
“Club cricket and clubs like Harrow Town is really what English cricket is all about and seeing so many people get involved and volunteer shows it’s in a pretty good state,” the 28-year-old told me.
Cook’s cricketing roots were firmly established at a young age as the talented left-hander spent his summer holidays playing club cricket for Maldon Cricket Club. At the same time, he earned a music (choral) scholarship at Bedford School and went on to break almost every batting record.
The England opener, who made his debut for Essex in county cricket soon after leaving school, said the period he spent playing club cricket proved very beneficial to his development.
“I turned out for Wickham Bishops in under-11s cricket before I played for Maldon when I was about 12. The opportunity the club gave me to play men’s cricket at such a young age was a great experience. It gave me a great opportunity alongside going to Bedford School as well.
“Having access to cricket at a young age is very important, but also competing at a high standard helps. You learn so much against experienced cricketers (as a young player), the players that have been there, like the tricky 40-year-old bowler who bowls at about 50mph and lands it on a length every time.
“Those kinds of situations as a young player are invaluable,” he added.
Although England’s preparations are very much underway ahead of a hectic international summer of cricket on home soil (which includes an Ashes series), Cook now has a short window of opportunity to don the whites of his county and find some early season form with the bat.
Cook is the first one to admit, that as England captain, he is still learning his craft. However, the batsman revealed he is the elder statesman when he returns to his county side.
“I see that as my role (giving advice to up-and-coming cricketers) when I go back to Essex. When I see 18 and 19-year-olds coming through the ranks at Essex, I certainly feel with the amount of cricket I’ve played, then hopefully a word here and a word there can help them out.”
Listen to Stuart’s interview with England’s Captain below: