In October 2018, I started a six month programme with the Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy (DLCA) in Adelaide, Australia. This is a high performance programme with highly qualified coaches that train budding cricketers in the same way as elite athletes. On top of the training with the Academy, I played for and trained with East Torrens District Cricket Club. The opportunity to join the academy came about after I got in contact with Mark Sorell, an Aussie cricket coach at Gresham’s in 2014 and 2015. I explained to him that I wanted to play cricket in Australia during my Gap Year. Being a former coach at the Academy he advised me to sign up for the DLCA. I am so thankful for him for doing so as I had a brilliant time out there, it was an experience of a lifetime.
Being in Adelaide, I realised the benefits of going to Gresham’s. Living on the other side of the world was made easier having being a boarder in Sixth Form and getting sound advice prior to going.
There have also been unexpected ways that my time at Gresham’s came in handy. When the opportunity arose to speak at a cricket dinner attended by the likes of Ricky Ponting, Allan Border and Michael Kaspowich about the DLCA, I had no qualms about jumping at the opportunity. My experiences of public speaking at school, especially as Head of School, gave me the confidence to go for it; and that dinner turned out to be one of my highlights in Australia. In truth, had I not gone to Gresham’s I doubt I would have done such a thing on my Gap Year. My love of cricket was greatly fostered during my time at Gresham’s. Playing matches regularly during the summer, training all year round from a young age and going on tours to the likes of Barbados developed a passion in the game, without which I would have never pursued what I did.
Living and playing cricket in Australia for six months was an unforgettable experience and it was not only good for my development as a cricketer; living on the other side of the world wasn’t easy at times, but in general it was really enjoyable and doing so will certainly stand me in good stead for the future. The freedom and having fewer responsibilities was something that I felt I needed immediately after leaving school. In terms of my development as a cricketer I feel like a completely different player to when I left. I now have a serious ambition to make it and I know what is required to do this. My time out there wasn’t just to set myself up for the future, after all it was my Gap Year so I made sure that I would have a good time while in Australia.
I have so many highlights, but there are a few that stand out; One of these was net bowling against both the Australian and Indian test sides at the Adelaide Oval nets in the lead up to the Test Match. By doing this, I was lucky enough to bowl at the likes of Shaun Marsh, Marcus Harris, Parthiv Patel and Buveneshwar Kumar. Another was playing Finals for my club as we looked to win a flag. Finally, somehow managing to be in the members area for three days at the Test Match. Something I will look back very fondly is my time at my club, East Torrens. The lads there were very welcoming and I made some good mates. I loved getting involved with the social aspect of the club, attending club functions, presentations, watching games and staying on after training.
It was the best six months of my life, and I would like to thank Gresham’s for helping me get there and making the most of it.
Billy Buckingham (H)