KENT batsman James Hockley says that he is determined to make his mark after being handed a second chance at The St Lawrence Ground.
The 29 year old – who was releasedat the end of the 2002 season – is back after an impressive spell playing club cricket in the Kent league. So how did the second chance come about? ’Well, it came completely out of the blue’ said Hockley (pictured). ’I certainly wasn’t expecting the call, but I’m delighted to get another go and I’m confident that I will take full advantage because I believe that I have some unfinished business.’
The likeable top-order bat, who was born in Beckenham, is back after a six-year spell but still remembers the day he was released by Kent. ’It was a horrible day for me and I found it very difficult to cope with at the time. It took me a while to get going again because it really knocked me – but I’ve certainly got a lot stronger over the years. Rather than look at the negatives, I decided to look at the positive aspects of being let go as I still felt that I could play to a good level. So I went and played club cricket. Fortunately, Kent must have been impressed with what I did and they have now given me this fantastic new opportunity.’
So a second chance for Hockley at County level, but what has he been doing since 2002? ’For the last four years, I’ve been teaching at Marlborough House School in Cranbrook. It’s a fantastic private school – I teach sport there and they have been very supportive. They have let me have the summer off and I will return in the winter. I would like to thank them for understanding my situation and allowing me this opportunity.’ said Hockley.
’Before, cricket was my only job. Now I have been away and learnt my trade. Teaching is very enjoyable and I am certainly a much more rounded individual than when I initially left Kent. I am more confident and go about things with more freedom. I don’t take life quite so seriously; if it goes wrong then it’s no major drama.’
Hockley was training with the rest of the boys earlier today and was clearly enjoying being back amongst friends. ’I’ll be honest with you, I’m loving it. I’m like a school kid again and I’m really enjoying my training. Many of the guys who were around during my first spell are still here so that’s nice. Like in any job, it’s always pleasing to see a few friendly faces when you walk in. We spend a lot of time together throughout the season and a cricket dressing room is like a big family; you live with each other for 6 months so you have to get on as it’s a case of talking about much more than cricket.’
Members are clearly pleased that Hockley, who came through the Kent Youth system, has been given a second opportunity. The player himself feels he is now better equipped to cope with first class cricket. ’I guess I am more knowledgeable now – not just cricket-wise but with life in general. I’m a stronger person now and I’ve learnt a lot more about my game. I don’t think my game has changed too much, but I’ve certainly changed mentally. The first class game is much tougher than club cricket so I realise that I will have to work much harder and I’m fully up for doing that.’
After being given another go, does Hockley expect to start the season in the team?’I think it is far too early to look at that. The squad is pretty small and compact but I’m not sure if I will figure initially. The key for me is to score as many runs as I can. If I can do that then I stand a good chance of figuring.’
’It’s been a funny winter for me. Training inside and then getting the opportunity to get back out in the middle. The season has come around very quickly. Like all my team mates, I’m training hard and I think this year will be very exciting for us. Kent has always been close to my heart and I’m hoping to really make my mark after being awarded this great second opportunity.’
James Hockley was in conversation with Jamie Reid