There are obvious upsides with the place – Sydney is a great spot – and the weather. It will be great to train, play and then go to the beach. But the main benefit is how well it prepares you for first-class cricket back at home.
It’s perfect because the standard is great. It’s hard cricket, and they love it out there. As soon as you open your mouth, the opposition know you’re the overseas and you will get some stick!
They are plenty of formidable players in Sydney grade cricket. Sometimes you can almost be playing against a state attack in a first grade game.
Mark Stoneman is playing at Bankstown, and Morne Morkel played for Manly the other week. It would be great to come up against him again after scoring a century against Surrey at Scarborough this summer.
This is why coaches are usually happy for batsmen to go out and play this kind of cricket.
I have been given a good guarantee that I will be playing first grade whilst I’m out there. That is not always the case with English lads, so that’s good.
I will be doing the International Cricket Programme stuff whilst I’m there, which Harry Brook, Jordan Thompson and Matthew Waite all did last winter. So I will be training five times a week for the first couple of months on top of my club commitments.
I’m a massive advocate of doing this sort of stuff in a winter, going out of your comfort zone as an individual, because it challenges you. For me, that is where you learn your best lessons.
Since I was 16, I’ve been out of my comfort zone, whether it was going to boarding school and not knowing anyone to going to Worcestershire and trying to make it there.
Between the age of 18 and 21, I was constantly trialling with a number of counties.
I have major ambitions in the game, so I need to be doing the right things. This, I believe, is the right thing for me now.
The trip has actually been a long time coming. I was initially due to fly on October 7, but I obviously got injured towards the end of the season and have had to do a lot of rehab work. Now, I’m fully recovered, match ready and in good shape.
I’ve been in and around Headingley for the last four weeks or so, just working in the gym doing strength and agility work. I’ve also been batting with Adam Lyth in the nets this week and doing some fielding. He’s been in preparing for his T10 trip in Abu Dhabi.
I had a good start to my season, but it ended with the frustration of the knee injury warming up at Taunton.
That came out of the blue. The way I did it, I will probably never do it again in a million years. But that’s just how it goes sometimes.
It was a shame because, as a team, we finished the season off pretty poorly, which was disappointing. We felt like we should have finished third in Division One.
Next year, with the squad we’re building – we’ve obviously just signed Dawid Malan – we should hopefully have a decent chance of challenging.
For me personally, having made an encouraging start to my time in the first team, this is where the hard work starts. I’ve shown I can do it, now it’s about kicking on and building myself into a player who can be around for a long time.
The signing of Dawid is a great one.
As a young player who is starting out in the game, I’m not really looking at his signing as competition because he’s way ahead of me with his career.
But what it does do is, when you’re in the team with him, it makes you relax a bit more and frees you up because he’s clearly a top-class player with international experience.
He adds so much balance to the batting line-up. We have youngsters like myself, Jonny Tatts and Harry Brook, three really experienced players in Lythy, Gary Ballance and Dawid and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who is making himself into a very formidable player in all formats.
Then you have Tom Loten, James Wharton and Matthew Revis behind us.
Not only is there depth, there is also flexibility as a batting unit. Look at mine and Tom’s (Kohler-Cadmore) situation, for example. We could both open the batting in the Championship next year or slot into the middle order.
It’s all coming together now following the conversation I initially had with Martyn Moxon around 18 months before signing.
He said, ‘The club is in transition, but we are building a squad who will challenge for trophies a couple of years down the line’. With this signing, you can see our intent.
We pushed through some younger players in the season just gone, but now we are going for someone who is more experienced and will likely be one of our top run-scorers next year.
Not only am I excited for the next few months in Sydney, I also can’t wait for next summer.