Ross Whiteley is back training with Worcestershire after playing in the Bangladesh Premier League T20 competition and then the inaugural T10 tournament in Sharjah.
The all-rounder was part of the Sylhet Sixers squad which played in front of crowds of 25,000 but missed out on reaching the knockout stages in the BPL.
He then helped the Maratha Arabians side qualify for the the semi-final hurdles in the T10.
Ross will revert back to T20 action when he plays in the Pakistan Super League for Multan Sultans in a competition which runs from February 22 to the final on March 25.
It will give Whiteley more experience of playing against some of the best T20 specialists in the world before he returns to action at Blackfinch New Road next summer.
Also part of the Sultans line-up are Kumar Sangakkara, Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo, Shoaib Malik, Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan and Imran Tahir.
Here Ross looks back at his winter, the challenges ahead in the PSL and how he hopes Worcestershire will reap the benefits of his global experiences in a Question and Answer Session with the Worcestershire CCC website.
Question: You’ve just come back from a winter of T20 and T10 cricket in Bangladesh and Sharjah, how has the winter gone for you?
Ross Whiteley: “It has been a great experience. Playing T20 in sub-continent conditions for the first time was a bit of a challenge but it went pretty well.
“When we first got there the temperature was in the early 30s, but after the first couple of weeks it dropped quite nicely.
“We played quite a lot of cricket at night so it was more the dew factor in games rather than the heat which came into play.”
Question: You played in front of some big crowds?
Ross Whiteley: “Where we started the T20 in Sylhet, it was pretty much sold out for every game. something like 25,000 crowds.
“It was one of the best experiences I’ve had on a cricket field.
“The crowd are really passionate, crazy fans. They just don’t cheer the home team, they cheer absolutely everything, and that’s what really made it.”
Question: Your team had a fantastic start to the tournament but couldn’t sustain it?
Ross Whiteley: We got off to a flier. it was strange really.We started with five overseas players, and you can play five overseas players, so everyone who was there knew they were playing.
“As soon as more guys came, it almost seemed to disrupt the team a little bit or the roles and you were almost trying to fight to find a formula really.
“That’s what it seemed when we were there but we got off to a flier, played some good cricket as a team throughout, but we were just on the wrong end of a few games and that momentum, when you play T20 like that in a block, can be highlighted if you lose a few on the trot.”
Question: You were batting at number six most of the time?
Ross Whiteley: “I think it probably got it right towards the end of the tournament in terms of my position batting-wise.
“The make-up of the team was always a challenge with whom we had available but I really enjoyed the role I was doing, what I was out there for.”
Question: You actually picked up a wicket?
Ross Whiteley: “In two games actually! I got thrown the ball in a game for the first time in a long time so that was nerve-wracking to start off.
“But as soon as I got my ball in the hand, I really enjoyed it.”
Question: Was it a great learning curve for you?
Ross Whiteley: “Absolutely. Playing alongside and against some of the best players in the world…..
“Some people have said ‘Bangladesh is just a small tournament’ but you had all the big names there by the end of it.
“It is hard to come away and not learn something.”
Question: Is it something you’d like to experience again?
Ross Whiteley: “Definitely. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had being out there and playing with all the different people.
“I absolutely loved every minute of it, whether I was playing or training or just being around the hotels and spending time with all these guys who have played for years and years. It was great.”
Question: Then you went onto play the first ever T10 tournament. Was that arranged for you before or during the winter?
Ross Whiteley: “That came about while I was in Bangladesh. I didn’t even realise I’d been picked up (selected). I was out with Liam Plunkett and he knocked on my door and said ‘you’ve been picked up for the T10’ which was a nice surprise.
“It was a crazy tournament, going from T20 to halving that, absolute chaos in terms of the cricket and some of the games we were involved in.
“We played the Sri Lankan team and they scored 125 in 10 overs and we knocked them off with a six off the last ball. It was unbelievable to be part of.”
Question: Presumably you’ve got no time at all to play yourself in and just try and smash every ball?
Ross Whiteley: “Pretty much so. It was interesting because no-one really knew how to go about it as such.
“We played around with the batting order and it was almost a case of putting your ‘death’ hitters in straight after the powerplay.
“There is not much time to breathe cricket-wise.”
Question: Can you see a future for T10 cricket?
Ross Whiteley: “The feeling around it and buzz it created showed it has got the potential to stick around for a while.
“A lot of the guys involved in it, really enjoyed it. The batters obviously enjoyed it. Bowlers, I’m not sure. It was great, good to be a part of.
“Very chaotic at times, with a couple of games running side by side, but it was good.
“The grounds were pretty much packed. It is one of those tournaments that has to be played in the right conditions.
“If it was in England, it would be tough with the ball swinging and nipping around. The conditions of Dubai and places like that would really suit it.”
Question: You are back training with Worcestershire but then the winter continues for you with the Pakistan Super League. Did you get the call for that while in Bangladesh.
Ross Whiteley: “That was sorted while I was out in Bangladesh as well. I was told there was a team interested but, when there is an auction, you are never quite sure.
“I was watching the auction and it cut off just as I was picked up apparently. I was at lunch and I turned my phone off and then got a call from my agent saying I had been picked up.”
Question: It must be great to speak to guys of that international pedigree?
Ross Whiteley: “It is really good to pick their brains and learn a lot from them.
“I’ve also always wanted to play in Pakistan and as soon as these restrictions were lifted and you could play over there, I was looking forward to it.
“Hopefully fingers crossed we can go all the way.”
Question: In addition to the cricket, I believe you like to embrace different cultures?
Ross Whiteley: “You live and breathe it, don’t you. If you don’t embrace it, then I think you will find it really difficult.
“I loved my time out in Bangladesh. The guys in my team were a great group of lads, really got you involved in things.
“I tried the different foods, it was really good. I really enjoyed it.”
Question: Hopefully playing up to to March means you are in good nick for the domestic season?
Ross Whiteley: “Playing a lot of cricket over the winter and being in good nick would be nice but obviously it will be different conditions in April and May.
“Hopefully changing back to red ball cricket will work well.”
Question: How have you found the new experience of playing most of the winter?
Ross Whiteley: “I had played five years in Australia back to back and continuous cricket hasn’t really affected me as such.
“I think the intensity of it is different and having match situations all the time has been really good.”
Question: There are more and more tournaments growing up around the world?
Ross Whiteley: “It looks like everyone is getting on board at the moment. The tournaments are growing year on year.
“I’ve got my foot in the door at the moment and it’s down to me to keep it there really and put my name out there.”
Question: Presumably you’d like to repeat these experiences?
Ross Whiteley: “Definitely. It is something I wanted to do for a number of years now. I’ve watched the tournaments on TV and known a few people who’ve been to them.
“Having experienced them now myself, and knowing how much fun they are, it would be great to be involved for the next few years.”
Question: You will be hoping Worcestershire reap the benefits of your experiences?
Ross Whiteley: “That’s the aim. Even if I can bring one thing back and someone can learn one thing from my experiences, it benefits Worcestershire.
“Hopefully it gets Worcestershire’s name out there even more. It promotes the club. It’s all good really.”