Felicity Leydon-Davis - Adventures in the UK
Published on 03 May 2018
SKYCITY Hamilton Northern Spirit team member Felicity Leydon-Davis is based in the UK for the Winter to coach and play cricket. Follow her adventures here as she shares a diary of her experiences and travels while abroad.
It has been a fantastic month, filled with many adventures and meeting many new people. My journey started with a quick trip to the Gold Coast for some family time, as my brother and sister prepared to compete at the Commonwealth Games. I boarded the plane for the UK a few days later to make it just in time for the Cricket for Girls Induction Day. Lydia Greenway and her team have been working really hard to set up this company, and have recruited an amazing group of female coaches for 2018. We are each based in various parts of England for the summer and are allocated to schools in our area to run fun and exciting cricket sessions for their girls. I am lucky enough to be a part of this team and I have had a wonderful first few weeks having learnt so much already from the Cricket for Girls team, as well as the teachers and children that I'm working with.
Our induction day involved setting out our teaching programme for the summer months, and picking up new ideas for cricket activities from Lydia and each other. The range of names which we have for our activities is fantastic! From Traffic Lights, to Crocodile River, to Mini Golf and Tornado Cricket, they each provide extra excitement to the sessions and make each activity very easy for the kids (and me) to remember for the following sessions.
After the induction day, I had a few wonderful days exploring London, visiting family in Birmingham and catching up with friends, old and new. I even managed to catch up with Ben Kennedy - my high school cricket coach - and his family for a few hours exploring London and having a nice lunch in Convent Garden.
After picking up my new car that first weekend, I headed down for my first training day with the Devon County Women in Plymouth. They are a lovely bunch of girls and I cannot wait for the season to kick off soon. I continued on my 1000 mile journey for week 1 and ended up in Cheltenham, where I'll be based for the summer. I'm living with one of the tennis coaches from Cheltenham Ladies' College and her family. When I first arrived, I was greeted at the door by two very smiley little boys (a 5 year old and an 8 year old) who are absolutely sports mad. The youngest keeps on asking me if I've learnt the latest fad the "Floss" dance yet.. he tried to teach me tonight, it's definitely still work in progress!
My first day of official work was at Handcross Park a few hours away from Cheltenham. An amazing school with fantastic little girls really keen to give cricket a go. Within a few days I also started my coaching at CLC, and this included a visit from Lydia Greenway who came to deliver the coaching sessions to the girls as a a bit of PD for the teachers. I'm always fascinated by watching other coaches and how they teach. It was fantastic to gain some new ideas from Lydia and I cannot wait to show the girls who I coach the range of different activities that Cricket for Girls have in store for them this summer.
After a great first week, I started to get to know my way around Cheltenham, and I had nearly got the hang of not turning my windscreen wipers on every time I tried to indicate to turn a corner! I made my way down south to Plymouth on Saturday for another training day, and I met a lot more of the team. They're a young bunch, really love their cricket and work hard at their sessions which is really cool to be a part of. I managed to get a good hit out at the first session and we watched the Plympton Cricket Club men play their pre-season game afterwards. I also tried to get rid of my ever increasing sock tan in the fantastic mid 20 degree heat! The following day we had our first preseason game against Somerset. Fielding first, we managed to bowl them out for 65. I was really happy to be able to contribute to the team's performance in my first match by taking 2 wickets for 9 runs off my 5 overs, and I then came in at number 4 to score 25* and help us win the game. We followed on with a T20 match which went down to the wire, and credit to the Somerset girls for winning the match in the last over of the game.
In terms of my own training sessions, and keeping on top of my rehab from my back injury, I've signed up to the amazing CLC Sports Centre facilities. From 3 gym rooms, two sports halls, a swimming pool and multiple astroturf spaces, it's fair to say I'm spoilt for choice.
My second week of coaching soon began, with the true highlight being; at the end of my last session for the week I asked the girls what they had learnt. One of the younger ones said "so much" with a beaming smile on her face. It's moments like that when you know you've made a difference that are the most rewarding.
Finally, this weekend just passed I drove back down to Plymouth with my new playlist blasting and I had some seriously good sing-a-longs. Only to be rained off for the day (thanks UK weather!) but I did get to look around the city's sights and have dinner in a typical little English pub.
We drove up to North Devon Cricket Club the following morning, which is situated on the water front in Instow. A beautiful setting, however very cold, so the hand warmers definitely made an appearance. We batted first against Gloucestershire and put on 198 in 40 overs. I was pleased with my knock of 65* and I'm feeling good looking ahead to our first games next weekend. We ended up with a win by 98 runs as a couple of our swing bowlers took charge and got a few quick wickets to take Gloucestershire into the tail. I was also lucky enough to pick up the captaincy role for the last 20 overs or so, and it was great to see the team do so well.
It's been a great start to my time away. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to meet new people, playing multiple games of cricket, look around the country side, and visit my family. Here's to the sunshine coming out this weekend for our first official games of county cricket!