Worcestershire CCC batsman Ollie Westbury starts his first professional contract at New Road next month – but he is already looking to the future by taking the first steps towards training to become a coach.
England Under-19 international Westbury was one of 14 players – current and former county cricketers – to attend an intensive Level 2 coaching course at Edgbaston run by the Warwickshire Cricket Board in conjunction with the Professional Cricketers’ Association.
The bespoke course, which was successfully piloted in London last year, has been designed for PCA members to allow them to complete their Level 2 qualification in a shorter time scale than would normally be the case and to fit it into their winter schedule.
In addition to Westbury, among those who took part in the Edgbaston course were Warwickshire’s Ireland and former England fast bowler Boyd Rankin, Surrey left arm paceman Mark Footitt and Ireland captain and Warwickshire batsman William Porterfield.
Darren Franklin, Coach Development Manager of the Warwickshire Cricket Board, organised the Edgbaston course at the suggestion of PCA PDM Lynsey Williams and he was impressed by the intake.
He said: “Normally it would take about eight weeks to do a Level 2 course which makes it difficult for professionals to attend every session . So holding it straight after the end of the season in four days helped them.
“They still have practical sessions and assessments to complete before Christmas but the course was a good opportunity for them to understand the process of coaching so, that if they do decide to take it on as a career, it’s a good stepping stone.
“I enjoyed the experience and the challenges that came with working with professional players. Obviously, they are very good players but great players don’t always make good coaches.
"While some are extroverts on the pitch that doesn’t necessarily show as a coach so we try to draw out those skills.”
Hopefully Westbury will have a long and successful playing career before he decides to put his coaching badges to good use – should he choose to go down that route.
But other players on the course are well advanced in their careers and looking sooner rather than later at life when they hang up their spikes.
Porterfield said: “I need to start looking towards things after cricket. One of the potential options is the coaching route and I haven’t done a lot of coaching so far. It’s something I want to get under my belt and it’s a good thing to have in general.
“The last couple of winters I’ve had a lot of time away with Ireland which would have made doing even a course like this a struggle. But having it straight after the end of the season, before players go away for the winter, is good timing.”
Footitt said: “You can’t play for ever so I wanted to come and see whether coaching is for me. I’ve done a bit of coaching but I’ve got no qualifications and this is a good start to see if you have the passion for it.
“If you want to be a bowling coach or a head coach you need your coaching qualifications and it’s better to do it now while you are still playing.
“Cricket can finish in an instant. If you can’t play again, you have to find yourself a normal job but if you want to stay in cricket as a coach this is a great way of starting off.”
Also on the coaching course at Edgbaston were: Recordo Gordon (Warwickshire), Ateeq Javid (Warwickshire), Liam Banks (Warwickshire), Liam Smith (former Worcestershire Academy), Sam Kirnon (former Glamorgan), Aneesh Kapil (Surrey), Tom Milnes (Derbyshire), Sunny Singh (Warwickshire), Nick James (former Warwickshire and Glamorgan) and David Thompson (former Essex and Surrey).