Alex Gidman has returned to Blackfinch New Road as Worcestershire’s new Second Eleven coach.
Gidman was forced to retire from first class cricket after a distinguished career after suffering a finger injury towards the end of his first season with Worcestershire in 2015.
But he quickly adjusted to life away from out in the middle and became an elite performance, leadership and cricket coach, working in both sport and business developing areas such as resilience, creating a positive culture and dealing with pressure.
Gidman has combined his own experiences, Psychology (which he’s studying on line at Derby University) and Neuro Linguistic Programmes to create workshops and programmes to assist team and individual development.
Now he is harnessing those experiences as a player and during the past two years with his new role with
Worcestershire and goes into detail via a Question and Answer session with the Worcestershire CCC website.
Question: Alex, welcome back, did you ever think when you left here as a player that you would be coming back one day?
Alex Gidman: “Probably not when I was playing. Like most people or players, you are never quite sure what direction you are going to go in.
“Obviously, I love cricket but it was important for me to assess things and see where things were at so, at that particularly moment, probably not – but I would probably say coaching, full stop, for a while.
“I just wasn’t sure what the next few months would look like but things have changed and I’m extremely grateful to be given this opportunity to come back and help the lads out.”
Question: Your retirement came as a shock because the finger was expected to heal and you would be back playing in 2016?
Alex Gidman: “I was in the middle of a two year contract. I didn’t have a great first season but I was starting to score a few runs towards the end of the year and perhaps things were starting to turn around a little bit.
“A little bit of me was thinking perhaps we can have a good second season and then the injury came along.
“It was a tough time for lots of different reasons but once a career comes to an end, it takes some time to get used to and come to terms with.
“When you finish in professional sport, it’s not like a career in insurance where you can finish and then come back to it five years later. With sport, once it’s gone, it’s gone
“I think that takes a bit of getting used to. It was an interesting, challenging time finishing with injury but you certainly can’t dwell on the past too much.
“I think it’s important, as I’ve tried to do, to take every ounce of my playing career now and use it in creating my coaching knowledge and philosophy to pass onto the next generation.”
Question: How did you get into the motivational type of coaching?
Alex Gidman: “I basically sat down and started to assess all the things that I’d been through, good and bad – all the coaches, all the players, from teams I’d been in and opposition, all the things I thought I’d seen done well and poorly.
“I just thought about it really, what makes teams win, what makes teams under-perform, individuals like-wise.
“I was at a networking event at the Cheltenham Cricket Festival, bizarrely enough, that year, chatting to a regional MD of a big insurance company, chatting about some of the highs and lows, and he asked me to make a presentation to his senior management team about some of the cultural aspects of professional sport.
“I did that, it went really well, he asked me to come back and do another presentation and that’s how it started really.
“Off the back of that, I got a little more (work) but I always had one eye on cricket and coaching and trying to learn as much as I could about potentially trying to get back into the game at some stage.”
Question: You used your cricket knowledge to help with those projects, but equally now the experience from your business projects will aid with cricket?
Alex Gidman: “One hundred per cent. I certainly believe so. I learnt a lot about businesses, spent a lot of time with very successful CEOs and MDs and learning off them about what successful business looks like.
“I was using my experiences to try and help them but at the same time using their experiences to build up my kind of knowledge, my bank of experience, and it has been extremely beneficial.
“I haven’t just been limited to businesses. I spent time with Olympians, Paralympians, Special Forces, London Air Ambulance Crews, just trying to pick the brains and learn about performing, preparation, all these little bits and pieces.
“It has been an extremely interesting learning curve for me over the last two years and I’ve been studying Psycology as well at Derby University on line which is something I’m going to continue to do. I’ve packed a lot into what is now a relatively short space of time.
“But I certainly feel that it has all kind of led to being here now as part of the coaching set-up with Worcestershire.”
Question: Kevin Sharp was saying that you think ‘out of the box’ and you challenge people?
Alex Gidman: “I think that probably comes from my captaincy days as a player. I think as a captain it is important to have a clear vision and keeping things as simple as possible but at the same time you’ve got to be thinking of little unique ways or little ideas you can try to get a breakthrough or perhaps change a run of form or whatever the case may be.
“I guess that’s just me. I don’t think I’m scared to make mistakes and I guess that is part of the gig as well. You’ve got to be prepared to make mistakes but most importantly learn from them which is something I try and do.
“I suppose challenging myself, challenging other players….I guess it’s just me as a person, just the way I am. I don’t see it as a big thing. It’s just my make-up and how I go about my business.
“If that is something that can help the group and help individuals, then happy days. It would be great.”
Question: The players, when you were here originally, always said you were very helpful to them and after you had left as well?
Alex Gidman: “I think coaching and helping players started quite a long time ago. Back in my Gloucestershire days, i’d quite often get approached by some of the players asking to look at their techniques or to help them out doing some work together.
“I guess I’ve actually been coaching for quite a long time and I think every player is different. Some do want that technical kind of relationship, others want that kind of mentoring type of relationship, just drawing on experienceand helping them out in a different way.
“I think, for me it is trying to understand how each player is different and there is no set formula in my opinion. It’s definitely not a one-size, one-fit approach. That is why I guess I built some good relationships when I was here as a player.
“But obviously I’m fully aware this is a different role and those relationships will have to be and will certainly be very different.”
Question: I know you are Second Eleven Coach, but Kevin Sharp has said all the coaches will be flexible?
Alex Gidman: “I believe so. It is obviously pretty early days in terms of how the structure will work exactly but I’m pretty sure from a cricketing point of view, Kevin will be wanting the second team to try and perform in a similar way to the first team.
“We want transparency throughout the whole set-up. If there is a second team bowler who has bowled really well, and earns his place in the first team, what we don’t want is that person having to do things drastically different to what he has been doing for the second team.
“That’s really important, that there is that fluidity, not just with the coaches but also that there is consistency with the messages throughout the whole group and I’m sure that will be the case.
“It’s a very tight knit group. It always has been. I think it’s one of Worcestershire’s great strengths and I think the players will thrive in consistency throughout the whole group and being treated fairly which I know is something that we will certainly be striving for.”
Question: Kevin has been stressing that the players not in the first eleven are just as important?
Alex Gidman: “Definitely. Although it is still very early days in my time back, it’s clear there is a very clear understanding that this is going to be a tough challenge for us so we need all to be performing as well as we can as much as possible.
“It will be a 16 man season. It won’t be about 11-12 players. It’s going to be too physically tiring yet alone mentally tiring for that to be the case.
“You hear a lot of talk from Eddie Jones at the moment about his ‘finishers’ and if I was to look at that in terms of a cricket squad over a season, we’re going to need every member of the squad being match ready as often as possible to help out and perform when called upon.”
Question: You are taking over a very exciting group of young players in the second eleven, young bowlers in particular?
Alex Gidman: “They are all monsters! I came back and met everyone again and shook their hands and there are three or four lads towering over me and I’m six foot, two inches.
“I think it is great, really exciting. I’m yet to see them bowl fully but everything I’ve heard and read is extremely exciting and working alongside Al (Alan Richardson), I’m really keen to see how they evolve and develop as a group, not just as individuals.
“They’ve got some really good mentors here in Joe, the captain, Maggs and Shants who have been around a long time in terms of having mentors who are still playing to go and use.
“From my point of view in the second team, to have a quartet of bowlers who are going to be anything from six foot, three inches upwards or bowling 85 miles per hour is going to be great.
“That could be any of the bowlers and there are going to be some challenging nets over the next few weeks for the batsman as they all strive to prove a point and try and get into that first eleven in a few weeks time.”
Question: I assume ultimately getting players in the first team is more important than second eleven results?
Alex Gidman: “I must admit we haven’t discussed that too much in terms of what our aims are in the second team. Certainly I’m a huge believer in trying to learn as much as what is possible all the time so I will always be challenging the group to make the most of every game we play.
“That may be about batting for a draw, chasing totals, setting up games properly, how to get into a position to win matches. For me it’s about learning constantly in the second team as a group.
“But it is individual. I want to make sure that when called upon, the lads are both physically and mentally ready to step up at any stage. It is really important and if we can achieve that, then we are operating in a good place.”