There’s a good number of the Yorkshire lads, and Northern Diamonds girls, heading to Australia this winter to play grade cricket, and they will have an amazing experience.
I think it’s around half a dozen players across both squads going. From the Yorkshire squad, Dom Leech is heading to Adelaide, Matthew Revis to the Gold Coast and James Wharton to Perth.
One thing I can tell you for sure – having grown up playing in Sydney – is that they definitely won’t be going out there for a holiday, because it’s tough cricket.
The quality is very high, and what makes it so tough is that each state has their own premier competition; New South Wales Premier, Victorian Premier, Queensland Premier, etc.
Rather than having a lot of different Premier Leagues, all the talent is condensed into one place in each state.
If you’re an English county cricketer coming over to play grade cricket, you wouldn’t have a quiet weekend. They get singled out, massively.
That’s because there’s a lot of players in Australian grade cricket who think they could play county cricket. They see the mid-seventies mph bowlers who nibble it about a bit and have success and think they can match that. So they go at you, and county players are almost public enemy number one.
But it’s completely different in reality. The main thing I try and convey to the guys back home is that county cricket is really hard.
Our guys don’t realise how hard it is. It’s just as hard as state cricket but just different. There’s more pace in Australia because that’s what the conditions bring.
Because of the focus on you as a county player, it’s a fantastic challenge. And I would say it’s the best thing you can do as a youngster looking to develop.
You have to be patient. Most of the time, you’ll even start in second grade.
One of the teams in Sydney had Haris Rauf a couple of years ago, and he started in second grade! It’s very much the stubborn Australian way. If you’re new, you have to earn your stripes.
Other clubs have had Zak Crawley fairly recently, Ben Duckett and Brooky as well, who was with the University of New South Wales club in 2018/19.
I would say that Sydney and Melbourne lead the way in terms of quality around the country, but the Queensland programme has become pretty good over the last few years. So Rev, who is going to the Gold Coast Dolphins, is in a really good spot to develop his game.
Queensland do things slightly differently in that they put on a winter T20 competition in the winter, sort of a mini Big Bash.
For that, they get marquee players from all over the country who are just a step below the standard of Big Bash marquee players. It’s a really great tournament, which a lot of the Sheffield Shield guys will go and play in in the middle of pre-season.
That has been a big thing for improving the quality over there.
The guys will learn a lot, both on a Saturday and during the week.
The good thing about each first grade team is that they’ll have at least one current, former or future state cricketer.
My team at Manly, we had at one stage Steve O’Keefe, Morne Morkel, myself and my brother Jack, who were first-class cricketers, and a few more besides. We had two gun Test players and about six first-class players.
Leechy was saying that his team over in Adelaide has three first-class players, and one of them is Chadd Sayers, who has retired now but is one of the best players who has ever played state cricket.
You generally train twice a week, and there’s not a lot of fluffing about it. It’s pretty elite and professional.
The personality of our guys going over there certainly lends to fitting in well, having a great time and progressing their games. Some of my best mates are from the grade cricket scene, and I’m sure our lads will make friends for life. I wish them all the best and just wish I was joining them. I’ll get onto that shortly.
For the Diamonds girls, too, they will progress their games. I hear Sterre Kalis has gone to Tasmania and Leah Dobson to the Gold Coast.
Australia are the dominant force in world cricket, and clubs are doing a great job of furthering the women’s game. Other states will be exactly the same.
Manly started their women’s grade teams five or so years ago, and it’s going really well. That’s something each of the 20 clubs are trying to do, which is great.
I am heading back home for November, though not to play as I’d initially planned.
I’ve had an operation on my left ankle to correct a few things which have been going on for a while. I had a plantar fascia foot injury through much of the summer which didn’t settle as quickly as we hoped, so I decided to get the ankle sorted as well whilst I can.
I’ll be doing absolutely everything I can to get my body right for the start of next year, and hopefully the injuries will be behind me.
I’m going home to see the family, and as soon as I get back here I’ll be running and gymming and taking a steady approach to progressing my bowling.
Even though it’s been pretty disappointing cricket wise for me, I’ve loved my first summer with Yorkshire so much – honestly, more than I ever expected I would.
I had a few sleepless nights before coming over, thinking, ‘Jeez, what if all this goes bad, what if I hate it’. But all those worries have been put to bed because I’ve had such a good time.
I’ve made a lot of really great friends, and the people have been so quick to make me feel welcome. I’m so thankful for that.
It was a really positive end to the season for us in the Championship.
The goal from the moment the points deduction happened was to not be on the bottom of the table. And we got to do that. That was a win for us as a squad.
All the talk amongst the group was that if we didn’t have those points taken off, we’d be giving promotion a red hot go.
It really doesn’t feel like we’re far away at all.
Not only were results good last month, the young guys had fantastic seasons. Next year, we’ll certainly be ones to look out for.
We’ve taken a lot of confidence from what we’ve done this year, and almost fighting in the face of adversity.
The most promising sign, for me, is that the morale in the changing room is as good as I’ve witnessed in any team I’ve been involved in.
It’s hard to be bottom of the ladder – as we have been for much of the second half of this year – and to take all the things that have been thrown at us and yet still have a good morale.
What are we going to be like when we have a good year and get a bit of a run on? It’s going to be pretty scary.