It has been extremely satisfying as a current Minor Counties cricketer seeing players like Shropshire’s Richard Oliver (Worcestershire) and Hertfordshire’s Tanveer Sikander (Essex) break into the first-class game this season.
It is about time more Minor Counties players were given their chance – this level of the game does not get the respect it deserves. I get the feeling that a number of counties think that it’s a social gathering for league players to get together and have a night out.
Over the years Richard has made a number of big scores and it’s great to see a county throw him in and give him a go and how he has repaid their faith. He’s got good runs – and quickly – at the top of the order in all forms. While early season form saw Tanveer break into the Essex first team after a number of bowlers became unavailable.
If more counties looked into Minor Counties cricket and did this, they could quite easily pick up a bargain or, better still, even unearth an England cricketer. There are a number of players with the talent and skill currently playing in Minor Counties cricket that I’m sure would perform and hold their own at the professional level if given the opportunity.
The likes of Cheshire’s left-arm spinner Dan Woods and fellow spinner Toby Bulcock, of Cumberland, have both performed well in 2nd XI cricket having been standout bowlers in the Minor Counties game for a number of seasons now. Shropshire’s Ben Sanderson and Gurman Randhawa, both formerly of Yorkshire, have been in fantastic form taking 72 wickets between them.
Batting-wise Christian Purchase, from Cornwall, who scored a hundred off 58 balls against Wales this season, is a player of serious potential. Rick Moore has been in fantastic form for Cheshire while former Unicorns player Jayden Levitt has scored runs heavily for Wiltshire for a number of seasons now.
Former county players like Ben Howgego, Kadeer Ali, Rob White, Ed Young, Jacques du Toit and Chad Keegan have all joined this level in recent years and I know they have been impressed by the talent around.
The competition plays a very important role for first-class cricket. A number of international players have experienced playing at this level. Names such as Alastair Cook (Bedfordshire), Chris Woakes (Herefordshire), Alex Hales (Buckinghamshire) all played at this level before their journey on to the international stage but still there is a stuffy attitude towards the game at this level.
There are a number of current county staff players that turn out for their home Minor Counties sides when there are no 2nd XI games. It would just be nice to see more people get the same chance Richard and Tanveer have.
I feel a little hard done by that I’ve not had a chance to play first-class county cricket myself. I understand now at my age, 25, it’s getting unlikely but I will continue to work hard and do everything I can.
Bridgend captain, and ex-Glamorgan opening bowler Andrew Davies, has been very supportive of my efforts to break into the professional game. We’ve also been joined by former England quick bowler Simon Jones this season and he also believes I can play at that level.
Having the support from two very highly regarded cricketers gives me great confidence to succeed and continue to pursue becoming a first-class cricketer. All I can do is to keep knocking on the door.
Playing all year round does help a lot. I have wintered in Melbourne for the past four seasons working on my game and learning new skills. You learn a lot about yourself when you leave home and go away to play. You become self-reliant and have to think for yourself.
I would definitely suggest to younger players who are aspiring to be professionals to have a season away. It will only make you better in the long run. I have grown up as a cricketer and as a person and now understand my role a lot more clearly.