Ask the coach: Callum Jackson

Callum Jackson is a former professional cricketer, coach and director of cricket at the London Cricket Academy. We talk to him about the evolution of the game and why wearing the right kit is essential when you play.

You played for Kent CCC, Sussex CCC & England U19s and are now coaching younger players. What are you expecting as their cricket coach?

I always look for commitment and passion for the game. Talent is obviously something you’re looking at, but the commitment to training and attention to detail is ultimately what makes a difference. We’re trying to make sure everyone is having fun as well as training hard. 15 of our kids at the London Cricket Academy were selected for county last year, which is amazing.

Women’s cricket has considerably evolved in the last few years. Who would you say best represents it today and what changes have you observed?

When thinking about the women’s game, the first name that springs to mind is Sarah Taylor. She recently retired but undoubtedly paved the way for a new era. She is a very strong and athletic player, and was the best keeper batter in the world for a long time. There are also players like Tammy Beaumont and Katherine Brunt, who are on top of their game and really stand out.

Women’s cricket is definitely changing. Shorter formats and franchises appeal to wider audiences, and most big games are now on TV. Besides, the fact that England is doing well at the moment has undeniably generated more interest in the sport from girls and women. It’s good to see that participation at grassroot level is increasing.

Did you see more girls join your club?

Out of 30 players in a group, we usually have 3 to 5 girls. It might not look that many on paper, but we have reached a big turning point with a great cohort of strong, committed girls who usually play different sports but decided to turn to cricket because it’s cool. It’s like a culture that breeds itself and I expect this trend to grow stronger over time.

How about the challenges they might be facing?
It’s true there is still a bit of a stigma that cricket is a male sport. Things have started to normalise but it is an ongoing challenge girls and women still have to overcome. When I’m coaching, I never think I’m coaching a boy or a girl. It’s just cricket. Of course you adapt some things depending on people’s skills, size and body shape but the approach should not be any different. When coaches don’t treat the girls differently, that’s when things really start to change.
What is the impact of sportswear on performance?
Massive! It’s important to feel good to play well. Wearing the right kit allows you to move better and therefore enables you to play at your best. I believe there is a direct relationship between clothing and performance – as an individual but also as a team, where looking good and “playing the part” is essential. Details matter a lot in cricket and players are usually quite specific about what they want to wear: baggy or fitted trousers, large or fitted tops, short or long sleeves… It is such a unique sport, with so many little habits and rituals! Setting a routine is very important in cricket: it helps you think clearly and manage pressure when needed – I have experienced this first-hand when I was a professional cricketer!
Your best cricket memories
Without any doubt, my first team debut against Australia in 2013, as well as my first professional 100. It was the culmination of all the hard work, so many hours behind the scenes… It just made it all worth it.

Any advice to younger players?

Commit to the game but most importantly, enjoy it!

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