Dirk Nannes didn’t listen to conventional advice.
The wise sages of cricket all agree: If you have not made it into a first-class setup by the time you are 18, you may as well be on the cricketing scrap heap.
But Dirk was a skier. Sure, he played good club cricket in the summer but he never took it seriously. He was happy on the slopes.
Then he decided cricket would be a better bet. Convention dictated he was wasting his time; he was too late to make it as a professional. He switched anyway.
In 2006, at 29, he made his first class debut. 3 years later he was an international.
Can you be like Dirk?
Nannes is quiet the late developer, and he is not alone in making a late attack on professional cricket. It can be done.
So what are your chances?
In reality it’s very hard to break through if you are outside the conventional “academy” system. The reason is nothing to do with talent either.
When you are young the more you train and play, the better you become. If you are recognised as a potential first-class player at a young age you are given more games and better coaching and a crucial time in your development.
You start to believe your own hype and get the confidence that goes with increasing skill levels.
Players in this setup are pulling away from their peers through more deliberate practice. By the time they get to their late teens are well ahead.
The good news
The good news is that if talent is less important than good practice, you can blossom late if you miss the academy gravy train.
It just means you have to start practicing and playing very hard indeed. You have a lot of catching up to do.
Dirk and others like him could do it because they had a good base from which to build. They were already : coordination, balance and agility all came naturally to these guys.
They still had a long lead time before they made it too. Nannes played club cricket seriously for 7 seasons before he broke through for example.
Which brings us back to that age barrier.
You can make it as a professional right up into your late 20s. But that comes with a proviso:
• You have to have a base of athletic ability that was developed as a youngster (aged 6-14).
• You need to be playing good standard amateur cricket (such as UK Premier League 1st XI).
• You must be performing deliberate practice 2-5 times a week.
Be honest with yourself and ask if those things are a realistic possibility. If they are and you are 25 years old, then go for it. It's a long road with no guarantees of success, but it's possible; Dirk proved it.
by David Hinchclife, PitchVision Academy
© 2012 miSport Ltd