It’s been a busy 2015 already for cricketer Matt White but the Lancashire bowler insists he is not afraid of a bit of hard work as he aims to follow in the footsteps of former England skipper Andrew Strauss after being selected for the MCC University scheme.
A former under-19 Lancashire representative, White, who has also played for Bury CC and Preston, is this year balancing his studies in sports coaching at Loughborough University with receiving top-level coaching and playing opportunities with Loughborough MCCU.
While the new season may be in its infancy, the 21-year-old medium fast bowler has been getting up to speed for the last few months, having toured first Sri Lanka in March with Loughborough before going to Abu Dhabi as part of the combined MCC Universities side.
White is in his first year on the MCCU scheme but he is not alone in pursuing both cricket and education at the same time, with former England captain and Ashes winner Strauss just one of a host of names to have benefited from the set-up.
And with the immediate aim to try and catch the attention of the leading county sides, White knows he is well positioned to shine.
“This is my first year on the scheme and it’s been very beneficial, especially the support you get,” he said.
“It’s all about small steps at the moment but I’d love to go on and make a career out of cricket.
“Andrew Strauss is a batsman while I’m a bowler but to see that he has been on the scheme and gone on to the highest level is a great motivation.
“Going out on the tour was a really good experience and I was able to try out a few different things to improve my game.
“I’d come off another tour with Loughborough MCCU to Sri Lanka shortly before so I was a bit tired but I feel like I did reasonably well.
“By the end of the Abu Dhabi tour I was starting to feel a bit tired and I picked up a bit of a side strain which was obviously not ideal ahead of the season. But it’s fine now and it was a good learning curve about how to manage your body when the games are coming thick and fast.
“I just want to keep working on my game and keep making the gains. I was linked with Lancashire in the Under-19 set up but then I got injured near the end of the season and lost a bit of contact with them.
“But I’m with Loughborough now and hopefully I can keep performing and maybe come to the interest of some other counties.”
Since 2005 the MCC has funded and administered six university cricket academies in England and Wales, giving each MCCU £92,700 per year to run their playing programmes.
A career in cricket is what White is striving for, but he admits having a solid education in his back pocket will also help him out in the long run.
“Obviously you are not going to be able to play cricket at a top level all the way until you retire at 65 so it’s important to have that educational grounding behind you to give you options,” he added.
“I’m studying sports coaching as well so the advice that the staff and coaches give you on the scheme is really useful. It really gives you an insight into how to think as a coach which benefits me.
“I’ve played cricket for a few years but the psychology and mental aspect to the sport is very useful and then the coaching has been top drawer as well.”
MCC funds six cricket academies in England and Wales incorporating 13 institutions. The MCC Universities offer the best environment to obtain a degree which will be valuable whether the dream of professional cricket becomes reality or not.
Image courtesy of Lil Shepherd via Flickr, with thanks.