Cricket has long been a staple of Guernsey’s long hot summers and was one of the first sports to return after lockdown.
Plans for the 2020 season may have taken a bit of a knock but the sport is determined to build on recent successes. Cricket Development Officer Ben Ferbrache is leading the way.
Having been in the role since January 2019, 32-year-old Ben already had a long history of coaching behind him before taking over from previous SDO Dave Hooper.
‘I started coaching aged 16 or 17 then took a gap year before university and worked for the Guernsey Cricket Board,’ said Ben.
He then went to the University of Gloucestershire to study Sports Development and Coaching plus a final year of Applied Sport and Exercise Studies. Whilst at University he worked for the Gloucestershire Cricket Board on the Chance to Shine project coaching children in schools’ cricket.
Returning to Guernsey, Ben then worked for the family firm, Fletchersports, before taking the opportunity to move into the full-time sports development role.
‘It was make or break time,’ said Ben. ‘I was very pleased to take on the role and now work with infants all the way up to senior players.’
At the moment Ben spends a lot of time working with children and young people at Beechwood and Elizabeth College as the schools have a strong cricket heritage. Current restrictions mean he is having to provide more one on one sessions and plans to roll out programmes across all primary schools have had to be put on hold for now.
‘In general, we would be doing six-week sessions in schools across the two spring and summer terms. We spend two weeks on each discipline – batting, bowling & fielding.
‘We start with the really basic skills and then advance those who can. We had plans to have worked in all primary schools this year following our start in February,’ said Ben.
‘We aim to get everyone to a skill level so that they can then take part in a ‘kwik’ cricket festival at the end of their six weeks.
‘We teach them lots of fundamental movement skills – catching, throwing, and striking and other key ones such as running.
‘There is a big crossover from other sports such as hockey and golf with strength and coordination plus athletics events such as javelin or for sports where you need to serve like tennis. Cricket can help massively with a number of sports.’
The island now has three junior clubs with around 80 children playing across the age groups. Numbers have been growing and are going in the right direction.
‘We have been focusing on the structure of what we offer so that parents are able to plan. We work closely with football to ensure the seasons don’t clash; its important that we coordinate so young people aren’t forced to make a choice of one sport over another.
‘Guernsey has some fantastic facilities for cricket. KGV has new changing rooms and a lot of effort has been put into the grass wickets.
‘We have the Indoor Sports Centre for winter training with some great cricket-specific facilities,’ said Ben.
‘The College Field has grass and artificial wickets. Memorial Field has a grass wicket as well and clubs also play at Port Soif and La Mare de Carteret. We have even delivered some sessions on the 4G astro pitch under floodlights as well as training in the College Sports Hall and Les Beaucamps.’
Ben plays his club cricket for Cobo CC and also plays for the Guernsey island squad, most recently in the ICC Europe T20 series. The team should have been travelling to Finland this month to compete but unfortunately the trip is another casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ben believes local cricket provides a great platform for young people to progress through to the top levels of the game.
‘We try to get as many games on island as possible. I have been able to travel the world playing cricket for Guernsey in places like Dubai, Malaysia and South Africa. I have been so lucky.’