Nino Severino: A wonderful experience at the Oval – And what a great mover Mark Ramprakash was!
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In his latest column, Nino Severino tells of his time coaching with some of England’s best cricketers
Christmas 2017 has now passed, and we move into that exciting period of expectation for 2018 and all it will bring, whether it’s sport, health, fitness or any other facet of life that you are focusing on.
It’s been fantastic to wake up to some very positive news from Down Under, with headlines that Alastair Cook had made his first Ashes century for almost seven years.
It’s safe to say that if you are a cricket fan, there really has not been too much to cheer about in terms of performance over the festive period.
Sport can provide us with some of the best feelings in life, but it can also be the cause of much heart-ache, but as with most things in life, sport works in cycles, and England, without doubt has an incredible history with immense cricketing heritage, they will rebuild and they will start to deliver the performances that the fans are craving for.
During my time as a coach, I have been privileged enough to have been very close to the top of many sports, and cricket I am very thankful to say is one of them.
Life can be a very strange experience and has the habit of pushing and pulling us in many of the directions we may not feel are possible or expected, and my experience in the world of cricket is without doubt, one of these cases.
It all started with a high profile multi-sports event in London; little did I know that some of the best cricket teams in England had representatives there.
Anyone who is, or has been part of a professional set-up will know that coaches and support staff are always on the lookout for that something that could make that little difference, and in the world of elite sport, the little things all add up to massive moments and performances.
On this particular day in London, someone who was watching my presentation on movement, power and speed, thought I had that little something that could be added to their set-up.
What I was about to experience over the next five years is the basis of my confidence in English cricket.
It all started with a call completely out of the blue from a representative of Surrey Cricket Club, the discussion was a very interesting one, and by the end of it, there was a date in the dairy to visit the Oval, to meet Alan Butcher the head coach and deliver a session to the first team.
I can remember pulling my car over, sitting there and thinking, what has just happened?
The day of my Oval visit had arrived; I travelled over to London the night before, to ensure I was sharp and ready for whatever was to be thrown at me. After an incredible tour around the Oval, including one of those life experiences you just don’t forget, and for me, it was the privilege of accessing the dressing rooms, my guide started to tell me about the great matches that had been played there and who would have been using these rooms to prepare for them, he told me all about the history and stories.
It gave me a sense of the occasion and how important this opportunity was.
Before I knew it, I was in the training area getting ready for my session with the first team; Alan Butcher was introduced to me with his son Mark Butcher, who was a seasoned international who had the honour of captaining the England Cricket team.
They said the first team are on their way, the moment they all came through those double doors, was, if I am honest, a big shock, I simply did not realise how physically big and athletic these players would be.
The session went incredibly well, the highlight for me was the presence of Mark Ramprakash. Anyone who knows cricket will know this player’s name, and even if you’re not you may still know him as one of the celebrities who competed on Strictly Come Dancing.
Mark, was simply an outstanding athlete, and my assistant took the footage that proves he was incredibly athletic and a very talented mover, which many of the Strictly fans would have witnessed over the weeks he was involved in the show.
After a glorious run of 12 weeks, he was crowned the Strictly Come dancing Champion, taking home the Glitter ball trophy.
My Oval experience took me on to work with Sussex Cricket team, and eventually join the team that delivered coach education for the ECCB at venues such as Lords and Edgbaston.
What I experienced during my time with the ECCB will stay with me for life.