By Mark Pennell
Former Kent and England favourite Dean Headley has finally hung up his bowling boots and taken a school coaching role after moving to Lincolnshire with his wife Lisa and their three children.
After giving up the first-class game Headley, or ‘Deano“ as the St Lawrence crowd preferred to chant his name, spent seven years in newspaper publishing before taking up his new post as cricket master at Stamford Endowed Schools.
Having been forced to retire from county cricket with a serious back injury, Headley, 40, has now fully called time on his playing days after appearing for an England Masters Twenty20 side in the Caribbean last month.
Having also grown disenchanted with the newspaper game, he is now happy to commit his future to the burgeoning cricketers of Lincolnshire and to the pupils of Stamford in particular.
“My playing days may well be over now, even for masters tournaments I fear,” conceded Headley in Barbados; “but I“ve got a new job to throw myself into which I“m really excited about.
“I“ll be working at Stamford School 30-odd weeks a year and virtually every Saturday with the various sports teams, so there will be no time for club cricket for me anymore.
“I“ll be coaching six year-olds through to 18-year-olds and see my job as teaching them to whatever standard they feel comfortable with. The standard isn“t really the motivating force for me, what matters more is that each child improves.
“Some of them may end up being really top-quality players, but I“ll get just as much satisfaction in turning a really poor cricketer into an average one. Just as long as it“s fun for them.
“To me we“re a little ‘dry“ with our cricket coaching in this country and I prefer to make things a little less structured and more informal. I learned much of my cricket in the back garden, or with a bunch of mates in the park, not in a practice net.”
Since retiring from Kent in 1999, Headley has enjoyed a five year-stint as an ambassador for the Professional Cricketers“ Association and is currently completing his ECB level 3 coaching qualification.
It“s all a big change from living in Canterbury and helping to run one of Kent“s most successful regional newspapers, but Headley is enjoying his new, quieter lifestyle.
“I grew up near Birmingham, so Kent isn“t the wildest place on earth to me, but yes, Lincolnshire is that little bit quieter still,” he said.
“We“ve got a place in Stamford now which backs on to the rugby club and we“re really close to the school which is great for our three children Demi (11), Caius (9) and Raiffe (3).
“I“ll be coaching rugby and other sports but, in terms of cricket, I“ll be working across all our school teams. It“s all about getting the junior pupils enthused about cricket, so that they take that spark through to senior level. There“s also interest from the girls school.
“I“m taking my level three but don“t see much point in me going for level ECB 4 because I can get all I need from coaching with the level three qualification. In fact, the job spec for the England bowling coach was only level two.
“I would never rule out working in county cricket one day, maybe as a specialist bowling coach, but for the foreseeable future everything is geared toward the school, helping the pupils there and making sure my kids get a great education.”
The winner of 15 England caps, six of them against Australia, Headley is taking a keen interest on events Down Under where he believes Andrew Strauss and Co will prevail.
“I hope England will win 3-1, but I know that every inch of the series will be tremendously hard fought,” added Dean.
“Australia are in their back own yard, they“re hurting and not winning many series right now, but they will be competitive and disciplined. They will know their roles.
“Our batters will have to get runs on the board, but the key is who will take 20 wickets per game for England to win. I think Swann will probably end up as our leading wicket-taker, but who will step up to take 20 to 25 wickets in the series alongside him?
“The reality is England have to bowl well as a unit, they cannot afford to let the Aussies put them on the back foot. Positivity is essential for England.”