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Have bat will travel! We catch up with four Takapuna Pirates playing cricket in England during the off-season banner

CHANNEL FEATURE: Interview

Have bat will travel! We catch up with four Takapuna Pirates playing cricket in England during the off-season

Four of the Shore's most promising cricketers from the Takapuna club are skipping the New Zealand winter by playing in the UK during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere. The four players are Auckland Aces batsmen Craig Cachopa and Jono Sole, New Zealand Under 19 batsman Robbie O'Donnell and up and coming Takapuna club batsman/bowler Elliott Herd. All four 'Takapuna Pirates' attended the wedding of their Takapuna club mate Blake Douglas in Mexico before heading to their respective club's in the UK. Channel's Aidan Bennett touched base with all four during May, just a few weeks after they had landed in the UK.

Jono Sole (Ashtead Cricket Club, Surrey)

AIDAN BENNETT: Where is the Ashtead Cricket Club located in England?
JONO SOLE:
South-west London or Surrey (The County).

AB: How long are you there for?
JS:
Six months, I will be returning to New Zealand in October.

AB: What's the deal like – are you on a good wicket?
JS:
I receive a weekly payment that covers our travel, accommodation and living expenses with a little left over. I am not getting rich but it is a great way to play some good cricket and see a bit of the world.

AB: You have only been there for a few weeks, have you made any runs?
JS:
No, I am a bowler haha! One of the old fellas is on my case though and runs will be required to get him off it. The remainder of the club is very supportive and I am confident the runs will arrive shortly.

AB: What are the facilities like?
JS:
The ground is very typical for an English club ground. The outfield is immaculate and the wicket block has no less than 15 pitches. The clubrooms have been recently constructed and are in good knick. The changing rooms are nice but a little small. All of the club members are very proud of the facilities and numerous people work tirelessly to keep it that way. The level of commitment to cricket clubs over here is unbelievable and something us Kiwis could learn from!

AB: Enjoying the local hospitality and team mates?
JS:
My girlfriend Lauren and I are living in Clapham which is a hotbed for Australians, South Africans and Kiwis. We have close friends living across the road and up the street. We are very lucky to not only have connections with the cricket club but an escape to our 'real mates' also. The lads at the cricket club have been very welcoming and are very easy to get along with. Two of lads are from Zimbabwe and know mates that I have met through cricket such as Colin De Grandhomme who also plays for the (Auckland) Aces. I have already been signed by the 'Zimbos' for the weekly flip cup fixtures after home games.

AB: Found a favourite tipple yet?
JS: 
I have really enjoyed tasting the amazing range of quality craft beers that are on offer in New Zealand in the last couple of years. I haven't really got into the warm ales yet and they don't really appeal to me that much. I have been smashing back the coconut water to get the body back to a reasonable state after attending a wedding in Mexico on the way here.

AB: How is the cricket different from home?
JS:
As mentioned before, I think more people genuinely care about their cricket clubs. Every ground has only one wicket block with boundary ropes and sightscreens at both ends, something TDCC (Takapuna) are also blessed with. The standards are very similar to back home but the participation numbers are amazingly high. Typically, New Zealand club cricketers tend to play the game between the ages of 18 and 35. Over here boys as young as 15 and men in their 60s still turn out for their club.

AB: What do you do when you are not playing cricket?
JS:
I am coaching twice a week at Ashtead CC. I am also working until July at Eaton Manor School, which is next to Clapham Common, and just a ten minute walk from home. The school employs a cricket professional to coach and take lessons during the summer term. I work from 12 noon until 5pm which allows me to go to the gym in the mornings.

AB: What is the biggest thing you miss about home?
JS:
I really miss going to the beach and the options we have available to us food wise in New Zealand. You can get good food in the UK, but it is usually expensive. Pub meals are great but get a bit boring after a while. Not to mention they are pretty unhealthy!

AB: Going to get to see any international cricket while you are in England?
JS:
Yes Craig (Cachopa), Robbie (O'Donnell) and I are going to Lords for the first day of the test against Sri Lanka. We did the same thing last year through Swardeston CC (Robbies current club and my former club) and it was an amazing day out. It has the potential to be even better this year. A perfect "Pirates on Tour" photo opportunity!

Elliott Herd (Yeadon Cricket Club, Yorkshire)
AB: Where is the Yeadon Cricket Club located in England?
ELLIOTT HERD:
Leeds in West Yorkshire

AB: How long are you there for?
EH:
Till the end of the season, which will finish mid September

AB: What's the deal like – are you on a good wicket?
EH:
Return flights, accommodation, food, performance payments (Runs and wickets), payment for coaching, payment for bar work.

AB: You have only been there for a few weeks, have you made any runs?
EH:
Yes I have made a few. Managed to score a 58 in our last game, however struggled in the first couple as I found it hard to adapt to the alien conditions. However I have played 4 games and scored 87 runs.

AB: What are the facilities like?
EH:
Facilities here are great on a whole. I have been very impressed. Most clubs have amazing looking grounds with historical club rooms, which provide picturesque settings for the games.

AB: Enjoying the local hospitality and team mates?
EH:
The hospitality has been very generous so far, as for the team mates I feel like I have already made some life-time friends. The club environment is very similar to what I have back at home at Takapuna – the boys love their cricket and also love to have a few drinks after the match regardless of the result.

AB: Found a favourite tipple yet?
EH:
Haha Yes, been drinking a lager called “Carling”.

AB: How is the cricket different from home?
EH:
Although I have been here only a few weeks I have already noticed some differences. The pitch conditions are very much in favour of the bowlers, producing little bounce and are very slow, which can make it hard to score runs quickly. The weather also hasn’t been that great which is expected over here early on in the season. I expect the conditions to improve as the summer goes on.

AB: What do you do when you are not playing cricket?
EH:
So far I have been doing some coaching, running, training and a lot of eating... haha!

AB: What is the biggest thing you miss about home?
EH:
I miss a lot about home, being away really does make you appreciate what we have back home. I would have to say my girlfriend – otherwise would be in serous trouble haha! However, I really miss the beaches as surfing is a big part of my life.

AB: Going to get to see any international cricket while you are in England?
EH:
Yes I will be definitely attending some games, Sri Lanka and India will be playing England later on in the season at Headingley Staduim so will try get along to them.

Craig Cachopa (Reigate Priory Cricket Club, Surrey)
AB: Where is the Reigate Priory Cricket Club located in England?
CRAIG CACHOPA:
Reigate, Surrey

AB: How long are you there for?
CC:
Five months, until mid September.
AB: What's the deal?
CC:
Flights, accommodation, car, weekly payment for coaching and playing.

AB: You have only been there for a few weeks, have you made any runs?
CC:
I have played the one game for my club and didn't manage any runs, but played a game for the Sussex second team and managed 77 not out against Somerset.

AB: Any chance of playing any County stuff?
CC:
I am training with Sussex at the moment but just taking things one week at a time and enjoying the opportunities as they present themselves.

AB: What are the facilities like?
CC:
Fantastic facilities at the club. Cricket is the national sport here and people really get behind the clubs and invest in them. Reigate Priory have grass nets, a brand new clubhouse and a fantastic oval.

AB: Enjoying the local hospitality and team mates?
CC:
Very much so! There is a great team culture here with a relatively young but talented side! The most impressive thing though is the club camaraderie. We have over 500 junior kids who all train together on a Friday and we had over 100 people watching us play in the rain and cold on Saturday. Everyone knows everyone and it's one big family who also enjoy having a beer in the clubhouse.

AB: Found a favourite tipple yet?
CC:
I tend to enjoy my cider, so Magners on tap has become a regular on a Saturday after the game.

AB: How is the cricket different from home?
CC:
The pitches are the biggest difference so far. It's slower and the ball moves around a lot more so I'm slowly starting to adjust my batting. Also constantly wearing a long sleeve jumper and catching balls in the freezing cold and rain has been a big change too!

AB: What do you do when you are not playing cricket?
CC:
University takes priority at the moment. I'm still chipping away at my Business Degree through Massey University back home. Other than that, I train and coach which keeps time flying by.

AB: What is the biggest thing you miss about home?
CC:
Family and friends without a doubt. Otherwise things over here are pretty amazing.

AB: Going to get to see any international cricket while you are in England?
CC:
Rumour has it, Jono (Sole) has secured us some tickets to watch a days play at Lords as Sri Lanka take on England which will be a great day. I did manage to sneak into Emirates Stadium to watch Arsenal beat West Brom last week though.

Robbie O'Donnell (Swardeston Cricket Club, Norwich)
AB: Where is the Swardeston Cricket Club located in England?
ROBBIE O'DONNELL:
A small town just outside Norwich city centre.

AB: How long are you there for?
RO:
Five months in total, until mid September.

AB: What's the deal?
RO:
They have sorted me with accommodation, a few small part-time jobs and access to a car. I am also helping out with junior coaching at the club.

AB: You have only been there for a few weeks, have you made any runs?
RO:
Was lucky enough to score 100* in my first appearance on the Saturday after landing and managed to steal a couple of wickets this week passed, only scoring 17 though.
NOTE: As this issue went to press Robbie O'Donnell had scored 282 runs from four innings, with an average of 141.

AB: Any chance of playing any County stuff?
RO:
With my New Zealand passport I doubt I will as this makes life tough to play as an overseas pro.

AB: What are the facilities like?
RO:
Swardeston has quite a small home ground (the Common Lane), with an artificial net to train on and a pretty reliable block and wickets.

AB: Enjoying the local hospitality and team mates?
RO:
They are a great bunch of guys at the club with a good club spirit and positive intentions!

AB: Found a favourite tipple yet?
RO:
I am enjoying the crisp taste of Desperado beers here in the Norwich sun.

AB: How is the cricket different from home?
RO:
The type of ball does make a difference. It's a lot harder and in the cold that makes catching a bit tougher. It has been a lot colder than back home in these first few weeks.
AB: What do you do when you are not playing cricket?
RO:
Have enjoyed the scenery while walking dogs and doing some landscaping. But the main thing that is taking my spare time is Uni work.

AB: What is the biggest thing you miss about home?
RO:
Mums cooking and arguing with the old man and younger brother!

AB: Going to get to see any international cricket while you are in England?
RO:
Yes, plan to watch England vs Sri-Lanka at Lords as well as some county cricket to watch fellow (Takapuna) Pirates in action.


by Aidan Bennett

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