Third year Physical Education BA(Hons) with QTS student, Jake Hutson, was offered an opportunity to coach professional cricket in Hong Kong – an offer he couldn’t refuse!
Due to his extensive experience of the short format, Jake was presented with the opportunity to take on the role of Junior Assistant Coach at one of the five franchises competing at this year’s HKT20 Blitz. With tremendous support from the University of Brighton, Jake was granted two weeks leave to accept the role of what could only be a described as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The DTC Hong Kong T20 Blitz is the is the world’s premier Associate Nation T20 cricket tournament. It brought the world’s best short-form players together alongside the local domestic cricket talent. There was also a focus on also developing Associate Cricket with each team required to select at least one overseas player from a non-full member nation. A total of five overseas players per team were permitted in the 2017 tournament as opposed to only three during the previous year.
Some of the great cricketing legends such as Kumar Sangakkara (SRL), Tillakaratne Dilshan (SRL), Ian Bell (ENG), Darren Sammy (WI), Chris Jordan (ENG) and Misbah Ul-Haq (PAK) were among over 20 international cricketers to descend into the tiny Asian territory of Hong Kong to take part in the second edition of the HKT20 Blitz tournament. There arrival into the small associate nation would attract a lot of attention prior to and throughout the tournament’s five days of play from 8-12th March.
Jake’s coaching role was with Galaxy Gladiators Lantau franchise where international players such as Kumar Sanagakkara (SRL), Jesse Ryder (NZ), Ryan ten Doeschate (AN), Azeem Rafiq (ENG) and Asad Vala (PNG) were in the squad.
Jake said: “How incredible it is for domestic players to have the experience of training with and playing alongside such talented, world renowned cricketers. It will be a formidable experience not only for their physical cricket development but to be able to pick the brains and soak up the wisdom of some of the world’s best cricketers, can only be a good thing for cricket in Hong Kong.
“My job consisted mainly of leading fielding sessions as well as arranging and orchestrating the running of net sessions. Having the internationals in the squad really increased the intensity of the practice sessions as well as providing great assistance when it came to refining the domestic players specific skills.
“When it came to giving feedback to the international players, I felt it best to ask questions to probe the players on their own performance. The players themselves will know how to correct the faults, it was more just to highlight to them that something doesn’t look right. Just to give a few examples, questions such as; ‘How is your balance there?’ ‘How much value is there in that shot?’ ‘What are you trying to do with that delivery?’ present the players with opportunity to reflect on their own performance, and correct/justify their technique without receiving contrasting views from the coach.”
As well as having five international professionals in the squad, Brian Lara was also part of the Gladiators squad, although his role consisted of being a team mentor within the franchise.
Jake commented on what Brian Lara brought to the squad environment: “Having someone like Brian in the squad proved to be an incredible attribute for everyone within the franchise.
“Brian was constantly passing on feedback individually as well as in group discussions where domestic and international players were wise to absorb anything and everything Brian said. Although results didn’t go the Gladiators way during the five days, Brian Lara organised a meeting with the squad in order to share some of his experiences along with presenting the squad with opportunities to ask questions. This gave the domestic players a fantastic opportunity to learn from and soak up knowledge from one the world’s best.
“We spoke a lot about preparation and how every player, whether for club or country, needs to work so hard on their game to make themselves ‘un-droppable’. This is something I will personally never forget!”
“Not only did Brian Lara and Kumar Sangakkara provide a substantial amount of experience within the team camp but, alongside some of the other worlds greats, created a lot of excitement for this growing tournament. To have only been running for two years and already have generated so much interest around the world, shows just how quickly this tournament could catch up with the likes of the Australian Big Bash and Indian Premier League.
“I hope to see the DTC Hong Kong T20 Blitz continue to grow and become a formidable contender within the professional cricketing world.”