Academy update: Alex Blake

Tuesday 12th May 2009

ITis a nice twist of cricketing fate that a cricketer hailed by his coach and several team-mates as a ‘one to watch“ in 2009 should hail from the same Kent club as the MCC President for the year – Derek Underwood.

Alex Blake shares roots at Beckenham Cricket Club not just with Underwood but also Rob Key, whose generosity with young players at the club and Kent alike is praised by the young Leeds/Bradford UCCE all-rounder.

Blake describes himself as a ‘batter who bowls“ but when he made his first class debut for Kent against the New Zealanders in 2008, it was Key“s heavy scoring (178*) that prevented the new boy getting a chance in the middle with the bat, and he had to make do with four overs in a curtailed match. Nevertheless the experience further intensified his unwavering desire to make it as a professional cricketer – as Blake says “I“m not sure what I“d do otherwise.”

So why is a man who only wants to be a professional bothering going through the University system? “I“ve always wanted to go to a UCCE and coming to Leeds has brought with it all sorts of opportunities. Firstly, I“m taking a degree in Sport, Leisure and Culture to give me a good grounding in sport should the cricket fall through. Secondly, it gives me the chance to train during the winter and really work on fitness. And thirdly, I“ll be getting some games in the Yorkshire League which is very strong and means I“ll get experience of different players, pitches and conditions.”

Blake has risen up through the ranks at Kent and will be a member of the Academy set-up during 2009 and 2010. He explains: “Because we have a reasonably small staff, young players get a lot of opportunities to see the top guys close up – we do a lot of bowling at them in the nets and are often 12th man in games. It means you know the level you need to be at to break through.”

Before starting at Leeds Met, Blake took a year out and played Grade cricket in Perth. “It definitely toughens you up playing out there!” he says. “They tend to play games over two weekends, which makes players value their wickets, because if they fail it could be three weeks before they get another chance.”

Good luck to Alex – let“s hope he makes a big impact in Kent colours over the coming years.