From dark days to England recognition – Brydon Carse interview

By Sam Dalling

“I had some dark days I won’t lie.”

A frank admission from Durham quick Brydon Carse.

Having burst onto the scene in 2016, the seamer was all to play a
central role in the club’s attempts to return to the top-tier of the domestic
game following their relegation for financial reasons at the end of that

But the cricketing gods had other ideas.

Such was the extent of his injury woes, you can count on one hand his
appearances over the next 24-months.

All that time on the side-lines takes its toll on the mind. 

As well as missing out on the field, you’re also robbed of the social
aspect of the game.

The hours on the road with mates. The dressing room banter. That feeling
of being included.

Blink and you’re in a dark place. To escape a rut requires great

Others can provide support, but the desire to turn the tide can only
come from within.

Luckily Carse had the foresight to recognise he needed help and plucked
up the courage to speak a sports psychologist.

“It was horrible. At the time I was living with Gareth Harte and George Harding –  they saw me in my darkest days,” he said.

“I’m very outgoing
and like to keep myself busy and spending times with my friends, but I wasn’t
the best person to be around.

 “I did a lot of work with the sports
psychologist. I don’t mind saying this; at first, I was hesitant to go and see

“But then it just
became someone to really speak to. You can only say so much to your mates and
the people you live with.

“They can give you
all the support, but you need someone to speak to that’s completely away from
the game and viewing you in a whole different way – it definitely helped.”

For a quick bowler like Carse the body is everything. His ticket to
ride. His stock in trade.

But steaming in over after over takes its toll, and there’s nothing
quite like the impact of the delivery stride.

The risks are greatest for a young paceman still growing into their
adult frame, a lesson the South African born man learned the hard following a
sudden growth spurt at the back end of his teenage years. 

“When I look back
at my junior years – right through up to 19 – 20 – I was a very small kid,” he

“I didn’t really
bowl quickly. I didn’t really bowl that much to be honest.

“I developed quite
late and shot up when I was going on 20.

“The big thing was
I was probably still growing into my body and trying to learn how to how to
bowl quite quickly.

“Coming from not
bowling many overs to playing four-day cricket wicket week in, week out, it was
probably all a bit too much of me.

“I probably wasn’t strong enough. I just hadn’t had the load of overs through me.”

Breakthrough: Brydon Carse celebrating the wicket of Kumar Sangakarra in 2016, shortly after bursting onto the scene (PA Images)

Fully fit and raring to go, Carse returned to training a few weeks back.

Having been named in England’s 55-man preliminary squad, a one-day
international bow is very much on the cards this summer. 

A meteoric rise for a man who only made his List A debut last

The right-armer finished the Royal London cup campaign as Durham’s joint
leading wicket taker and was a regular in the T20 competition.

And his natural pace – the quick regularly touches 90mph – was thought
ideal for the Lions’ tour down under over the Winter. 

Reflecting on the season, Carse explained that once his confidence in
his body returned, his form started to take care of itself.

“The big driving
force last season was staying fit and staying on the park.

“I’d be lying if I
said that for the first six to 8 weeks I wasn’t finishing a four day or one-day
game and giving it a big tick. 

“Not because of my
performance, but because I was about getting through the week with no pain and
no niggles.

“It was perhaps
not the best thing for my cricket as I wasn’t focussing on it 100% – I was
focussing more on my body and how that was reacting.

“Once June and
July came though I was getting through four-day games and my overs were up
there with the top two or three seamers at the club.

“I kind of forgot
about my body and my results started to pick up.”

Modern thinking dictates those blessed with express pace should be
restricted to short, sharp spells. 

Quick bursts, designed for maximum damage.

And that’s exactly how last Durham skipper Cameron Bancroft utilised
Carse in 2019.

To good effect too; an impressive haul of 36 County Championship victims
was just reward for a man who’s had to battle so hard at such an early stage of
his career.

But while happy to be used in this manner, Carse admits that his next
fight will be to convince captain to let him put in more of the hard yards.

“Shorter spells
are what I was used for – 4-5 overs.

“There were
probably times where I was itching to bowl a longer spell and I got my way now
and again but it was all part of a process.

“I think he
[Bancroft] would agree that over the first few months of the season he was
still learning his way.

“But towards
mid-way and the end of the season he had a very good understanding of how to
use certain players, me particularly.

“Going forward, I
do enjoy that role but definitely feel that I can bowl the longer spells as

Despite only having been in the North East a relatively short time,
Carse seen a huge turnover in the club’s playing staff. 

When the South Africa born all round made first class bow in 2016, the
side looked markedly different to the one that takes the field these days.

Scott Borthwick, Keaton Jennings and Mark Stoneman made up the top
three; all have since departed for pastures new. 

And the club has also lost the services of experienced internationals
Paul Collingwood and Graham Onions.

The former hung up his boots, while the latter set off for Lancashire at
the end of the 2018 season.

Losing five huge characters will rock any dressing room.

But sport notoriously works in cycles and having added a couple of
strong personalities, Carse feels Durham are close to rediscovering a winning

“Personally, I
think you’ve got to have strong characters in a changing room to be a good
side. We lacked that in 2017 and 2018.

“When I broke into
the first team you had some big characters who had all played for England,” he

“When we got
relegated for financial reasons after the 2016 season it had an effect – we
lost some players and had to rebuild.

“But the guys
we’ve brought in – Cameron Bancroft as captain, Alex Lees, Ned Eckersley and
Ben Raine – they’ve all got a wealth of experience in first class cricket.

“They are all very
good at what they do and are strong voices in the dressing room.

“Now we are
probably one or two players away from having a really good side.”

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