How does a professional cricketer keep himself busy during lockdown? Are you able to practice?
During this lockdown, I have managed to keep myself relatively busy. However, some days go by slower than others do. In the morning, my father and I will take the dog for a walk, and then I’ll play a couple of hours on the Xbox. I try to exercise most afternoons to keep myself ticking over. During the evenings, I head back to the Xbox to play with all my mates from Barnt Green!
I sadly have not been able to practice at all recently due to Government restrictions. But to be honest, because I had such a busy winter, I’ve enjoyed not even thinking about cricket for a few weeks!
You were meant to be playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in this years’ IPL right now – how excited were you to play in T20’s biggest franchise competition? Particularly to play in the same team as the likes of Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthick, Pat Cummins and Sunil Narine?
Being picked in the IPL is a dream come true. From a young age, I have always dreamt of playing in this competition. I remember staying up until two in the morning to watch the draft while I was in Australia playing in the Big Bash for Brisbane Heat. I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night as I was so excited!
Looking at some of the players in our team really excites me; I was particularly excited to play alongside Andre Russell, as he is arguably the best t20 player to have ever played the game. The opportunity to learn from these guys would have been great for the development of my game.
The KKR also have your England captain, Eoin Morgan – were you particularly looking forward to develop your game by learning from such a talented and experienced player? It surely would not have done your chances of being selected for the T20 World Cup any harm if you performed well in front of the skipper?
I know Eoin from when I was in New Zealand for my first England tour. He was the best captain I have played under. He would always back anyone in the team no matter what. I remember him coming up to me after I got out on my debut and he told me to never change the way I’ve been playing. He said ‘you’ve reached this level playing the way you have, you must not change’.
Obviously, the World Cup is approaching towards the end of this year and I must keep putting runs on the board whenever I can to hopefully get selected! With the England team as strong as it is at the moment, I must take every chance I get!
You made your England debut in a T20I against New Zealand in November last year and your ODI debut this year against South Africa. How did you find the step up to international cricket?
The step up is obviously noticeable; the bowling is quicker and more accurate. I remember my first few balls against New Zealand were facing Lockie Ferguson who is renowned for bowling quickly. I really enjoyed it though, and said to myself that whatever happens, just enjoy it as it may never happen again.
How excited are you at the potential prospect of playing for England in a T20 World Cup later this year?
The thought of playing for England in a World Cup is very exciting! Even just to be in the squad would be a very special feeling. The experience of pulling on an England jersey and playing for my country is something I never thought I would experience. Then the potential to play in a World Cup in Australia is even more appealing to me as it is one of my favourite countries in the world!
However, before the World Cup, The Hundred is scheduled to take place and you have been drafted in a very strong Welsh Fire squad. How excited are you to be a part of the first edition of this tournament with some of the world’s best players coming to the UK?
The introduction of The Hundred makes it a very exciting time for English Cricket. When it was first announced, I wasn’t too sure about the new format as there are a lot of new rules. However, to play for the Welsh Fire alongside Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc would really help me improve my game. The opportunity to learn from the best batsman in the world will do no harm to my batting in the coming years. However, I am not sure how excited I am to be facing Starc in the nets to be honest! I think the tournament will be a real success and hopefully attract a new crowd to the game, which is very important!
You have plenty of experience of franchise cricket already, having played been the star of the T20 Blast last year for Somerset, played in the Big Bash for Brisbane Heat and Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League. It is hard to believe you are only 21! Do you feel you still have the potential to get even better over the coming years?
This time last year, I wasn’t really enjoying my cricket if I’m honest. I had come back from playing Grade cricket in Perth where I averaged around 10. However, this taught me a valuable lesson that cricket wouldn’t always be straight forward and I had to work even harder. Playing this winter has taught me many things, and I have particularly leant a lot from Hashim Amla who was our team mentor in Pakistan. He would tell me every day how lucky we were to be here playing. He said that millions of people would sacrifice a lot to be where we are. I took a step back and thought to myself that getting a first baller or dropping a catch was not the end of the world, as long as I was trying my hardest. Reflecting on this winter, that is probably the most important thing I have learnt moving forward. I went through a bad patch during the PSL and I did get down about it as I wasn’t happy with the way I was playing. Hashim then sat me down and told me that he had been though bad patches so many times throughout his long career and assured me that I would come out the other side a much better player.
Michael Vaughan has said that he could potentially see you batting in the middle order for England in Test cricket in the future – is the prospect of playing for England in the longer format something that excites you or is your sole focus on white ball cricket at the moment?
My dream is still to play Test cricket for England as I view it as the hardest format of the game. However, I have really enjoyed playing in a few franchise competitions this winter along with having had a decent white ball summer last year for Somerset. I don’t think anyone would turn down these competitions. The experience it has given me has been invaluable as I have played with some of the best players in the world which has been a real eye opener.
In order for me to play Test cricket, I must play more red ball cricket for Somerset and score big runs consistently. If I do that, then you never know what will happen. I just have to be patient!
This interview was conducted by Tom Pittman, a member of The S Word.