5th Mar, 2021

Ex-Bear Clarke aims to inspire next generation

Liam Moakes 19th Jan, 2021

FORMER Warwickshire all-rounder Rikki Clarke is hoping “to give something back” to the cricket community with his new coaching business – the Rikki Clarke Cricket Academy.

Set up in mid-2020, the Rikki Clarke Cricket Academy offers cricket camps, one-to-one coaching and masterclasses with the man himself, with the aim of inspiring the next generation to come through and join Clarke in competing at the very top level of the game.

Joined by a small team of qualified coaches including Ollie Birts, currently the director of cricket at Guildford CC, and Matilda Callaghan of Southern Vipers and Hampshire Women, Clarke is in the process of building the business from the ground up – providing a very different challenge from the on-field pressures he is used to.

“It (the academy) is me. I’m finance, marketing, HR – the lot!” Clarke said.

“It’s been hard work getting up at 7am, going straight on the laptop and sometimes finishing at 1am or 2am, but when it’s your own company you want to put everything into it as best as you can.

“I wanted to look at giving something back to cricket and to the next generation. I want to offer a range of coaching from one-to-one to camps and masterclasses.

“We’ve had a good response but unfortunately we’ve had to cancel a few camps for Covid-related reasons, but fingers crossed we can get back sooner rather than later and get some cricket up and running for the next generation.

“I’m learning as I go and hopefully I’m doing a good job. Fingers crossed I can keep that going and people will see the Rikki Clarke Cricket Academy is a good place to be!”

There are few more experienced cricketers on the county circuit than Clarke. The 39-year-old, who returned to the Kia Oval and Surrey in 2018, has more than 650 appearances in all formats to his name and will be entering into his 21st professional season in 2021.

The veteran hopes to take some of the lessons he has learned throughout his career into his new venture and beyond. He has also been inspired by individuals he has met during a lifetime in cricket, including Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart OBE, whom Clarke has been learning from since the age of nine.

“I’ve had so many great coaches throughout my career and I’ve played with and against some of the best players in the world,” said Clarke.

“You’re always learning, even at the age of 39. I learn from both the older and the younger guys. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can still learn about the game the older you get.

“Going into coaching gives me the opportunity to pass on that knowledge and help individuals to progress and get better.”

Although he has no plans to hang up his boots for the immediate future, Clarke has already taken steps to prepare for life after cricket, in particular during the winter months.

With an ECB Level 2 coaching badge in the bag, he hopes to go one step further and attain Level 3, whilst also developing the soft skills required to succeed in business.

“I’ve always been thinking about life after cricket. Through the PCA I’ve always geared up for what I want to do after my playing days,” he added.

“I didn’t want to be in a position of my playing days coming to an end and wondering what I was going to do next – I wanted to have a plan in place. When someone gave me the idea of setting up my own academy, it was really a light bulb moment.

“I’ve tapped into my knowledge and I have family members who have been in business for many years, so it’s always good to ask questions.

“It’s no different to cricket when I was younger – if there was a coach in front of me and I didn’t know what to do I would just ask a question. That’s the best way to learn, but I have to say that Google and YouTube have also been very helpful!”

With a testimonial year and another season playing multiple formats for Surrey to look forward to, 2021 could be a big year not only for the Rikki Clarke Cricket Academy, but also Rikki Clarke the player.

Clarke quipped: “I’m really hopeful we can get everything back to normal and I can get the academy going and enjoy a great testimonial year. It’s certainly going to be very busy – I’m lucky I’m not moving house!”

Follow the Rikki Clarke Cricket Academy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Visit https://www.thepca.co.uk/personal-development/ to find out more about the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme (PDWP).

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