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Thursday, 22 July 2010
Dominic Cork took time out from captaining Hampshire and the commentator's box to visit Bolton School and offer his coaching tips, enthusiasm and wisdom to boys and girls taking part in the Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy.
The 38 year old former England international all-rounder paid a flying visit to the School and was quickly in the nets dispensing batting and bowling tips to the youngsters. He then held a questions and answers session with the participants before signing autographs and chatting further to the children.
The local boys and girls, aged 5-16 and of all levels of ability, have been enjoying a fantastic opportunity to learn cricket the Andrew Flintoff way as they took part in his one-week Cricket Academy at the School. The week is one of several academies taking place across the UK. "Freddie" has had real input into the week-long course, which is made up of lots of cricket, Freddie Challenges, swimming sessions and mini-tournaments, with a number of prizes and awards being given out. The aim of the academies is to inspire an early interest in cricket.
During the questions and answers session, Cork talked candidly about his career, saying he had started playing cricket aged 7 and although he had initially wanted to be a truck driver, he changed his mind when he saw Ian Botham in action in 1981. Ever since that moment, he wanted to become an all rounder and he cited Botham and Flintoff as his two cricketing heroes. In terms of the toughest opposition, it had to be Australia and his toughest opponent had been the Australian captain, Steve Waugh. When asked who were the best batters he had faced, he said there were four: Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara and Steve Waugh. Cork said his career had probably peaked in 1995 when he was called up for the England team for the first time for the test series against the West Indies. On his debut at Lord's he secured an impressive 7 for 43 haul and later in the same series recorded a hat trick at Old Trafford. This was then followed by an enjoyable tour to South Africa. He was also very proud to have captained Derbyshire for 5 years, Lancashire on occasion during his two years there and now Hampshire. He had been disappointed to leave Lancashire in 2008, having really enjoyed his time there with both players and fans.
Cork's favourite ground is Lords, which he said is a truly inspiring venue but this was closely followed by the ground in Cape Town, which was in such a wonderful setting. The most enjoyable game in Dominic's career had been last year when he had captained Hampshire to victory in the Friends Provident Trophy as they overcame Sussex by 6 wickets. A victory made all the more enjoyable as Sussex had beaten Lancashire in a final a couple of years earlier when he had been playing for them. When asked if he would prefer to score 100 runs or take 5 wickets, he answered that ideally you would do both in a game but if you could only have one, he believes taking 5 wickets is harder. He estimated that he had knocked 150-200 sixes in his 19 year career. He becomes 39 years of age in a couple of weeks.
The one piece of advice that Cork gave was to enjoy the game. He warned the boys that there will be plenty of lows in the game - when you can't get a wicket, you are out for a duck or you drop a catch - but he told them to try and keep a smile on your face and to look to help your team mates when they are having a hard time. He felt lucky even now that he could get out of bed every morning and do something that he really enjoys doing. As for a bowling tip, he said the best you can aim for is to maintain a constant length and line and then see what comes after that. He said he had been a medium to fast bowler, with an average bowling speed of about 85mph, which was just a bit slower than Flintoff's.
Approximately half of the course participants were boys from Bolton School, particularly from the Junior School. A Year 7 pupil at the School said: "This academy has been excellent - lots of fun and I've also learnt all sorts of new tricks and techniques that I will be able to use in School cricket."
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