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Mark Chilton on Lancashire players down under this winter

Mark Chilton on Lancashire players down under this winter

Mark Chilton says he is a big fan of the Australian grade cricket system as a handful of Lancashire’s players jet off to play some winter cricket.

The Red Rose Assistant Coach went down that route at various stages of his playing career: “I played grade cricket in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne,” he said.

And he and Head Coach Glen Chapple have given their blessing to a number of players wanting to do the same.

“Danny Lamb’s in Tasmania, Rob Jones is going to South Perth, where he had a very successful year last year. Brooke Guest’s going back there. That’s his home club,” said Chilton. 

“Josh Bohannon is at a great club in Sydney. He’s at Randwick Petersham.

“Arron Lilley is going back to Blacktown and Toby Lester is going back to North Sydney. 

“They have all got good placements, and I’m a big advocate of it because I thought it developed me in lots of different ways, not just as a cricketer.

“We’re here to support the players as much as we can and try and give them some direction. 

“Obviously the younger ones need a little bit more. But there is a time when, even as a young player, you’ve got to try and find it for yourself. 

“Grade cricket, you’re time out there is an opportunity for you to do that.

“There is a danger that you can look for your coach to help and fix you all the time. 

“Really, from my experience, the best players tend to be their own best coaches.

“With that in mind, going and spending six months in Australia where you do have to really get up and go yourself, I think it really is a good experience.

“For someone like Danny Lamb, who has worked hard at his studies, it’s a great opportunity for him to go ‘Right, here’s six months in a nice country with some good weather, good cricket on decent pitches’.

“We’ve tried to encourage players to play as high a quality of cricket as they possibly can. That was one of the arguments I felt strongly about.

“There are clubs out there who are not in the grade competitions who you can still get deals with. But I think the lads have got to remember what they're going out there for.

“Chappie has said ‘You’re not going for a holiday. It’s a great experience, but you are trying to get better’.

“If they’re not in the (Lancashire) team at the minute, it’s about pushing their case for the start of next season. And they have to remember that.

“We try and give them a clear development plan before they go. ‘What do you need to do to get better?’ But then it’s about them doing it.”

And what about the standard of cricket?

“The cricket is very competitive from my experience,” added the former Lancashire captain. “Sydney was probably the strongest at the time I went. I would say it isn't a million miles off some of the first-class cricket you see. 

“It can be difficult to compare because of the conditions you are playing in. I’ve talked a lot about the challenges with conditions in second-team cricket. Grade cricket is played on decent surfaces. 

“The quality of spin, I didn't see much quality. I think there’s much more strength in depth in England. But there’s more quicks, and the wickets tend to bounce a bit more. It’s a different game. I would suggest it’s somewhere in between first and second-team cricket at it’s best.”

Matthew Parkinson and Stephen Parry will also be out in Australia this winter. Parkinson, who was named Lancashire's Young Player of the Year has been awarded an ECB overseas placement in Sydney whilst Parry will down under too playing and coaching.

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