Recent Comments

November 2008
« Oct   Dec »

RMJ: So … what do we do in the off-season?

November 21st, 2008 by Robin Martin-Jenkins in County cricket, Miscellaneous and tagged , , ,

“So what do you cricketers do in the off season?” The question I have to answer most often at drinks parties; possibly even more times than “what’s it like having a famous cricketing name as a father?” My answer to both is usually brief as I try and move to the other side of the room as quickly as possible.

With a few exceptions county cricket is a seven-month job and after the last ball is bowled in September we are left with a strange mix of emotions. School term has ended and, regardless of how much success you’ve had, it’s worth celebrating. Five months of down time stretch out lazily ahead. That might sound like bliss to all hardworking souls out there who get four weeks holiday a year. And it is bliss. For the first four weeks. But then the boredom sets in and you quickly start to ache to get out in the sun and play cricket again. And so, a horrible thought begins to dawn in your head: you need to get a job. A frightening prospect indeed and one that might explain my scuttling across the room at parties.

Of course you can always play club cricket in Australia or South Africa. If you’ve played some first-team county cricket it shouldn’t be too hard to find a club willing to pay your airfare, give you some paid coaching work, a clapped out Vauxhall Astra and a grotty flat downtown, in return for your services as a pro. And I’ve tried that in the past. I’ve spent winters in Cape Town, Mumbai and Chennai and I’ve come back a better player each time. But a wife and family tend to make that harder and harder as the years roll on.

And then there is the prospect of life after cricket. I suppose you don’t start seriously contemplating this strange phenomenon until your mid-to-late 20s but a serious injury here, or severe loss of form there, could mean an end to your cricket career at any stage. So a little bit of thought as to what to do afterwards never goes amiss.

This is exactly the stage I reached about five years ago, at which point my winters took on a more earnest rhythm. An ex-Sussex colleague, turned wine buff, Toby Peirce, told me there was a three-month vacancy at the wine distributor he now worked for. “Not much money I’m afraid but lovely people and a great subject matter!” I decided that wine would be my thing, hired some wine books from the library, signed up for several courses and went for an interview. The interviewer’s first two questions? What’s it like having a famous cricketing father … and … what do cricketers usually get up to in the winter … ?

And so my next three winters were spent learning about the fascinating world of wine and helping out the sales team in the run up to Christmas, the busiest time of year in the wine trade for obvious reasons. I don’t think I sold much wine. In fact I seemed to spend more time talking to prospective customers about cricket than wine but I enjoyed it immensely. And it has become a possibility for life after cricket. Toby was right. Lovely people and a truly great subject matter. But there really isn’t much money in it.

And then my benefit year has come along which has comfortably taken care of what to do both last and this winter. When it finishes at the end of December (as years are wont to) I shall still have three months to go until the 2009 season begins. The post-Christmas wine trade won’t need me and so I’ll have to find something else to do. I’m thinking of writing a book. Perhaps a novel. It might be about cricket although I’m fully aware that there have been no good novels about cricket ever written. But I may give it a try. First scene: the Championship winning side go to a drinks reception in Buckingham palace to collect their medals from the Duke of Edinburgh. He shuffles into the room and straight up to the captain of the team and says: “Now tell me, what is it you cricketers do in the off season?” …

2008 is Robin Martin-Jenkins’ benefit year, visit for further details

Posted in County cricket, Miscellaneous | No Comments »

Leave a Reply

Site by Anson Robson Marketing © 2010 The Wisden Cricketer All Rights Reserved