Off to a land Down Under: Netherfield duo Marc Brown and John Huck all set for winter in Australia (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Off to a land Down Under: Netherfield duo Marc Brown and John Huck all set for winter in Australia
DESPITE only retaining the Ashes a matter of weeks ago, England will touch down in Australia next month as battle lines between two old foes are drawn once more.
And while the quest for the urn will dominate cricketing schedules over the coming months, the likes of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jimmy Anderson are not the only Englishmen with foreign climes on their mind.
Also migrating south for the winter are Netherfield duo Marc Brown and John Huck, who will board a flight on Monday not content to simply gain impressive passport stamps.
Brown returns to Australia after a productive spell with the Preston Bullants back in 2010 which preceded his move to Parkside Road from Carlisle the following summer.
The right-handed batsman will make his Melbourne return to fulfil the role of player-coach at Eastern Cricket Association outfit North Balwyn during the forthcoming domestic season.
A cricket development officer by trade, he will also work alongside some esteemed sporting names at the Shaun Brown Academy, and hopes the whole experience will prove beneficial.
“Even though Australia’s national side haven’t done as well recently compared to previous years the club cricket over there is very tough and being English adds to that challenge,” he said.
“Cricket is the sort of game where you constantly need to keep challenging yourself in order to improve and that is exactly what this winter will be.
“When I was over there two years ago the mental side of the game was a test and I think that really toughened me up.
“I reckon my professional development will really improve too as I will be working with, and learning from, some Victorian greats in Merv Hughes and Damien Fleming.
“There are different methods and ways of thinking and I’m hoping to pick up a few things which I can implement into my professional life, a career in which I hope to progress.
“No doubt it will be a learning curve as it was last time but I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
With three campaigns at Parkside Road under his belt, Brown – who scored 712 runs this summer – led the club to a ninth-placed finish in his first year as captain.
The 25-year-old, who is set to come face to face with team-mate Huck, is keen for his southern hemisphere experience to be an investment which pays a domestic dividend next season.
“I will be playing a similar standard to the Northern league while I’m away, which in itself is a tough league with different conditions every week,” he added.
“But that’s the beauty of cricket, not coming up against the same problems every game and being able to test yourself against a whole host of factors.
“I’m hoping to repay North Balwyn by putting in some decent performances, getting some runs on the board and helping to develop some of their younger players.
“The grounds over there are a lot bigger which can feel a bit odd with the games taking different formats too.
“But it’s important to be able to adapt and I hope all these things will benefit Netherfield next term.
“John and I are both up for the challenge. He is playing for a team in the same league so it will be interesting to play against him and have him behind the stumps when I’m batting.”
While Brown is an old hand when it comes to life Down Under, Netherfield vice-captain Huck is a rookie and will spend the winter as Hawthorn CC’s overseas professional.
After being unveiled to supporters at the Geebung Hotel next week, the 21-year-old will look to absorb as much as he can from his new surroundings and fresh cricketing culture.
“It will be my first time playing cricket in Australia and I imagine it to be a lot different to cricket over here in England,” he said.
“Being the club’s professional will require much more responsibility on and off the field but that will be good experience.
“I’ve played cricket in the Caribbean before and you develop more and learn more about your own game playing overseas.
“It’s a completely different ball game with the nature of the wickets and the heat which you have to contend with.”
The big-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman finished the summer with 744 runs, just one behind South African professional and leading scorer Colin Ackermann, with an average of 39.16 – the highest in the Netherfield ranks.
Like his skipper, Huck – who recently graduated from Lancaster University – is keen to generate momentum from his Australian experience and take that into next year’s Northern Cricket League campaign.
“I did ok this season but it was disappointing to have a number of games rained off at home, denying the opportunity to score runs on one of the better wickets in the league,” he added.
“There were pleasing aspects but I would have liked a few more league runs and we didn’t quite have the year we would have liked in terms of final league position.
“But it was a transitional period with players leaving and the aim is to build for next year and hopefully my time away will progress my game and help with that.”
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