Henry Cooper's Endless Summer of Cricket - UK Tour Diary

Published on 18 Jun 2017

One of our Rising Stars Henry Cooper has just checked in from the UK where he's currently playing for Rochdale CC during our off season. Find out what he's been up to here...

20 July 2017 

It has been a while between drinks on the update front but a lot has happened over the past few weeks. The weather has been very up and down and Ben Hyde and I took the advantage of some mid week rain to get a bit of travelling done. We went to the Spanish Island of Majorca where we chilled out for 3 days on the beach in 30deg heat. Although it was mainly like minded British people escaping the in-climatic weather of the UK, it was awesome to see some white sand and blue sea. 

We also made another trip down south to Cheltenham to play some more games for the Gloucestershire Gypsies. On our way down we found another Kiwi nomad Shane Burton who had just flown in from travelling Europe solo for the last few month or so. We stayed at our good friend Chris Coleys again who was running the Cheltenham Cricket Festival that week at Cheltenham College.  We played 3 fixtures during the week. The first fixture was in a touristy town called Bourton on the Water and we lost. The next day we played at Cheltenham College in a friendly game that wasn't initially scheduled. The 4 day first class game was wrapped up inside 2 days as 25 wickets fell on day 1. 

As the festival was in full flow and various hospitality (ladies day was held that day..) was promised cricket on the day Chris Coley worked his magic and got two sides together of decent standard from around the place. I had the privilege of captaining a side against a strong side captained by Mark Alleyne (England and Gloucestershire legend) and comprising of fellow kiwi first class cricketer Greg Hay from Central Districts. In the 30 over game we bowled first and were set 159 to win and we did so with 5 overs to go. The star of the show being our Kiwi comrade Shane who blasted a quick fire 50. I was about 20no. This was an awesome day playing in front of at least 500 people and with a PA system announcing us all as we came on to bat or bowl was something you don't get the chance to do very often. 

Our next game was at the prestigious private school of Clifton College in Bristol. Anyone who has been to the area will know this school and its beauty, its truly unbelievable. We batted first and Ben Hyde scored an eye catching 100 and I was out shortly after as well for 45. Shane also smacked a quick 40 to get us up to 223 dec. They managed chasing it 9 down with 2 overs in the day to go so it was a good game played at the best ground I have ever played at. 

My league cricket has been going well. We have been playing most Fridays Saturdays and Sundays. We are now third on the table as we lost heavily to the top of the table Norden CC last weekend. A few games have stood out over the past month or so.

We played a side called Greenfield CC in a league game one Saturday and were put in on a very poor wicket and we managed 190 which was a decent score on that surface. I scored 30odd before I went back to a long hop and got hit halfway up my pad in front of middle. The were 90 for no wicket and 135 for 3 when we started taking regular wickets and they needed 10 runs from the last over 9 down. Their number 11 hit the first ball for 6 and then our bowler knocked his middle stump out next ball and we win by 4. 

The next week we had a Friday night T20 and I had just flown in from Majorca a few hours before. I opened the batting and scored a 60 ball 110no and we amassed 235 from out 20 overs. We bowled them out for 100ish. The next day we played in the Wood Cup. I came into bat facing a huge barrage of abuse which I am more than used to but was slightly thrown back. On a slow used wicket I grinded my way to 60 off 45 over and then finished 109 run out on the last ball and still coped a send off. This definitely fired the boys up and we came out and took early wickets but one of their openers stuck around and in the end scored a very good 120. They needed 12 off the last over with three wickets in hand but the guy on 120 was out first ball then we took the remaining 2 wickets in the next 3 balls to win and go through to the semi final. 

The semi final was played last Saturday away at a club called Royton who apparently knocked us out of the Lancashire Cup last year and were very verbal about it. The pitch looked like we were in Hyderabad being used twice already. We lost the toss and bowled but the pitch really suited out 3 spinners well and we managed to bowl them out in the 33rd over for 110. We got off to a great start being 45 before losing our first wicket when they quickly introduced some spin. They only had two spinners who I thought we played very well and learnt from their mistakes in the first innings. We chased it comfortably 3 down inside 23 overs. The final is set to be a big day on August the 6th. 

I managed to get over to Huddersfield to watch my old team and Ben Hyde take on Skelmenthorpe at home in their Sykes Cup Final on Sunday. Broad Oak batted first and thanks to a very professional hundred under pressure 100 from Ben himself they amassed a far to great 250 on a tricky pitch. They bowled Skelmenthorpe out for just 100. Their final is devastatingly set on the same day as our final so we cant go watch but it will be a great day none the less. 

15 June 2017

A lot has happened since my last update. I have been spending a lot of time with fellow Northlander's Ben Hyde and Rory Christopherson. We managed a midweek excursion to Newcastle and Edinburgh to see the sights of the far north and it did not disappoint, we had a great time. We also managed to head down to Cheltenham and play in two Gloucestershire Gypsie fixtures which are a wandering side I have had the privilege of playing for over the last three years. We all didn't have the best day in the first game and Lord Vestey's private ground but we managed to all play decent in the second game with Rory keeping really well, Hydey getting 3 wickets and scoring 30no and myself managing 120 odd retired. 

In midst of all the good times being had over here, there have obviously been some horrific events taken place. The Manchester bombings was far to close for comfort as I was right there just a few days before. Not long after the attack on London bridge also happened. Luckily everyone I know who might have been in harms way was fine.

Cricket has been on the improve a lot with the Rochdale CC boys. We haven't lost a game since my last update and someone is standing up each time for us. I managed to score my first ton this season in a rain affected match on my birthday off 40 balls. We amassed 247 in 20 to ease to victory which set us up for the following games. We have won 5 on the bounce and I have chipped in with a few more half centuries and a couple of 40s. I haven't bowled much in recent times and we have two out and out spinners who do the chunk of it with being allowed to bowl 15 overs each. We now sit 4 points behind the top of the table (less than one win) in third. We are through to the third round of the Wood cup (PCL cup) and also in the Lancashire cup. Obviously things will be getting a lot harder for us in the future as it gets to the business end of the draw. Hopefully we can continue our form through the next period of cricket and put ourselves in a good spot for a strong finish to the season.

On the Saturday just gone, we had no game as it was a cup weekend and we only played on a Sunday. I was approached by Blackpool Cricket Club to deputy pro for them. Their pro, Anurag Verma, who I have played quite a bit with and against back home has a stress fracture and is out for the remainder of the season. The game was unfortunately abandoned due to bad weather which is a shame because I traveled a couple of hours to Preston. I then cruised back along the M61 to Huddersfield where I caught Broad Oak, my old club, and Ben Hyde playing at home. They were washed out shortly after their batting innings which they only amassed 140. 

Things are pretty quiet week to week - helping friends with errands and jobs, gyming and road tripping to wherever my Vauxhall Corsa 1998 allows me to go (not up steep hills).

15 May 2017

I am now into my third full week living in Rochdale which is about 20 minutes north of Manchester. The weather has so far been very kind to me only having rained once since my arrival (which is unheard of here). I am living with one other person who is a past player and very easy to get along with. The cricket club is huge hosting a block that holds 29 pitches! 24 playing and 5 training strips. We have 3 artificial nets and 2 squash courts. There is also a very well maintained lacrosse field and a soccer pitch where Rochdale FC train (who are in league 1 of the premiership). Our club was founded in 1892 and joined The Central Lancashire League in 1893 and won the league a boastful 28 times. We currently play in the Pennine Cricket league which was a merger between the Saddleworth League and the  CLL. Now before I bore you with too much club history I will let you know how I have started my season playing wise. 

My first weekend here consisted of a double header against two sides I obviously knew nothing about. We played the defending champions of the league on Saturday and there wasn't many highlights as we were handed a 8 wicket thrashing. I only managed 5 runs and it is said that my off stump is still cartwheeling somewhere. My first ball I bowled got hit for a big six against their pro, who scored 90 no to win the game, but managed to bowl a lot better after that. The second game was a bit different - we batted first in what was my first home game. Our home ground is very big especially for a English ground and our openers batted accordingly and got us of to a very good start, putting on 125 for the first wicket and not losing a wicket till the 35th over. I came in and scored a quick fire 75 of 52 balls and our number 4 scored 60. It was the first time in our clubs 125 year history that the top 4 batsmen all scored 50+. We finished on 303 for 5 and managed to bowl the opposition out for 140 and I was also lucky enough to take 5 for 21 with the ball. 

The next week involved a lot of admin and sorting myself out for my remaining 5 months. It also turned out we didn't have a game that weekend because it was a Cup game which we had already qualified for the next round due to last years achievements. So I thought I better take this chance to get over and watch my old club Broad Oak play where my good mate Ben Hyde is playing. I made the short 25 minute drive over the Pennine mountain range to the winter-less Huddersfield on the Friday night and woke up early to carve up my old golf clubs fairways again. After I lost all my money to the burglers which were floating around the coarse I made my way down to watch Ben shoulder arms first ball of the game and lose his of stump for a royal duck. Unfortunately that is cricket and I felt for him as the travelling supporters gave him an ear full on the way off. They ended up comfortably winning the match however. 

Matt Walbank from Hamilton was playing against him also. It was good catching up with everyone again and share a laugh over a pint. 

The week that has just gone myself and Ben did a bit of exploring around Manchester and I have taken upon coaching the u11 side for Rochdale which is pretty cool. They are a good set of young lads (and a girl) who love cricket which is perfect at that age. I umpire them and coach them during the week which is a good and keeps me busy. The club has also sorted me a gym membership at a great gym here and I am helping them promote their gym around sports clubs in the area. 

On the weekend we had another double header and we played away against a side called Crompton. We won the toss and batted on a good surface and nice ground due to all this nice weather. We managed 222 for 6 which I was hesitant about that being enough to win. I scored 93 and was out in the last over. Our bowling effort was mixed as we made a very good start having the home side 3 for 40 but their pro scored 128no and they chased it with 2 overs to go 6 down. We dropped him on 85 with 50 runs still required when they were 6 down which was a big moment. 

I have been talking long and hard about winning key moments in games with the boys and unfortunately we are not ceasing the opportunities fully just yet but hopefully things will click soon. 

Our next game was at home against a side who had just upset one of the front runners in the league. We won the toss and batted and again got off to a great start with our openers putting on 100 for the first wickets again. I came in with 20 over to go and we lost wickets steadily after I came in which keep halting our momentum but I got going with about 6 overs to go and finished 80no hitting 3 sixes in the last over to get us to 244. This would ultimately be enough luckily as we dropped their pro twice but we bowled well and bowled them out for 130. 

So far gauging the standard of the league would be very similar to the Huddersfield league I played in last year except every team we play against has a very good pro which teams have the mindset to rely on them. My team is a great set of lads and have made things so easy for me in terms of getting to know everyone and making me feel a part of the family. I am sorting a car this week as well which will make life easier getting around the place.