At the end of February, Simon Willis and Jason Weaver accompanied five cricketers from the Kent Cricket Academy on a ten day Academy Tour to Sri Lanka.
One of those cricketers was 17 year old Piers Richardson, a right arm fast medium bowler from Whitstable, who has been a Kent Cricket Academy Scholar for the past four years. Here, Piers gives us the lowdown on the trip.
We headed to Sri Lanka for a ten day Academy tour from 12 – 22 February and it was a great experience. We stayed in Colombo, and altogether there were five of us cricketers; myself and also Hugh Bernard, Ryan Davies, Ranjit Singh and Michael Waller. Simon Willis and Jason Weaver also came with us from the Academy, and there were five cricketers from the Essex Cricket Academy, as well as two of their coaches.
The trip was an amazing eye opening experience and also a great opportunity to experience the very different play conditions over there.
We trained daily, apart from two rest days, waking up at 6.45am each day to eat breakfast and to get ready. We stayed at the Galadari Hotel, next to the Hilton so we were in a good area and I shared a room with Hugh and Ranjit.
One of the highlights of the trip was a really exciting match with Moors Cricket Club; this was a 50 over one-dayer, which included some really good performances from my fellow Academy scholars. The match was watched by some locals as it was near a sports complex, that was great and it ended in a tie with the last wicket being taken in the final overs – a really great match!
The tour was a great opportunity to experience the conditions in other countries, and to learn how to adapt our game to these, it gave me a different outlook. There is a different length to bowl on their wickets and the spin bowling on turning decks is also quite different.
We trained at a different venue each day and this enabled us to adapt to the different pitches. As well as bowling and batting, we also learnt a great deal about fielding and adapting to different outfields.
On one of our rest days, we went to visit an elephant sanctuary, where there were baby and adult elephants – this is the first time that I’ve seen that in real life. On our way there we passed through some of the slums and it was a real eye opener. It made me feel so lucky to have this opportunity and really grateful.
I feel really lucky to have the support of the Kent Cricket Academy and this is my fourth year involved, since I first joined as an U14. I’m currently studying my A Levels at King’s School and I want to be the best that I can be. I would love to play for the Kent Cricket first team one day in the future and I’m building from there. I’m Kent born and bred, so this is where I want to be.
The Academy is enabling me to have training and support which is really specific to me, and I’ve been taught how to manage my training alongside school. I’ve learnt a lot about time management and life skills. I’m also receiving some great one to one support with my batting and bowling back in Kent, from Simon Willis and Mark Ealham.
On Friday nights from Christmas each year we also get the opportunity to work with the Kent first team and I’ve bowled at them in the nets. This has been a fantastic opportunity to identify and work on the small margin of error that can occur in bowling.
To date my proudest achievement in my cricket has been playing for the Regional London & East U17 a year early, and I’m working hard to build on this achievement. I’m inspired by players like Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes – cricketers who do a bit of bowling and a bit of batting, like me!
I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to work with the Academy and the opportunity to be part of the Overseas Experience in Sri Lanka which was kindly supported financially by the Kent County Cricket Supporters Club. I hope it leads to good things in the future.