Keeping up cricketing skills and abilities is important during the off season and many domestic cricketers opt to travel to the northern hemisphere to ensure they stay in top condition.
Ireland, The UK and Europe are the chosen destinations for many players. It allows them to focus on keeping their cricket skills fresh while playing against new opponents and creating cricketing connections.
One such player is Canterbury Wizards batsman Michael Papps who will be heading to Scotland this year to participate in the country’s 50-over league, which sees 30 team from around Scotland participate in three divisions. This will be his fourth overseas trip and his second to the land of bagpipes and haggis.
“It’s a good opportunity to go over there and keep the skills up. It’s not just purely cricket. It’s a good way to see the world and experience a different way of life,” he said.
The opportunity to play in a different team allows the New Zealand domestic players to expand on their skills and take on responsibilities which they might not be called upon to do while playing here. “They look to you to be a leader and help the younger guys and in my case score lots of runs. Then you come back here and take on that responsibility in the way you play the game,” Papps said. “You get to practice your skills in a less demanding environment and bring back your skills to First Class cricket here.”
Although the cricket community in New Zealand is vast, when you are playing at the top levels you are playing with and against the same players all the time. Papps said it’s nice to compete against different opposition and meet new faces along the way. “You make good contacts. You get the opportunity to meet new people in a new environment and make life long friends.”
His advice to potential young cricketers who want to travel overseas to play cricket is to do your homework. “It’s worthwhile gaining experience overseas and seeing what it is like to play somewhere else and the cultural side as well,” he said. “But make sure you make an informed decision regarding where you are going and what club you are playing for. There are stories about going to clubs which aren’t organised or promises that haven’t been delivered on. Also check what league you are playing in. You need to know what you are in for.”
Players go to a range of places around the UK and Europe, including counties in England, Holland, Ireland and Scotland. “It’s good to have a break from the boys but it’s also good to catch up with them when we are overseas. Leighton Burtt will be playing just down the road from me, so that will be interesting! It’s always good to catch up with familiar faces when you are in a different country.”
Papps will be based in Airdre, approximately half way between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Scotland was recommended to him by Wizards team mate Kruger van Wyk, who has spent time in the country playing cricket. “It’s not as cold as everyone makes it out to be,” Papps laughed. “Like anywhere it does rain, but it’s nice,” he concluded.