Zero to Pro in 6 months
In March 2010 I was working a a fish factory.
By September 2010 I signed my first professional contract.
Within 6 months my life had changed.
But it wasn’t what happened in that 6 months, it was the years leading up to it.
In 2004, at 14, I told my parents “I want to be a professional cricketer”
Over the next 6 years I was:
- injured for 2 years
- deemed not good enough by coaches
- had other players picked ahead of me
- always selected as a bench player
In 2009, before traveling to Australia for an academy, I asked head coaches, “What do I need to do to be a professional cricketer?”
The answer was a long one—I had a lot to do.
I put that list in my pocket, traveled to my club in Adelaide, and went to work.
When I returned, I knew I’d achieved everything. But the coaches had been working with players back in England, who they preferred over me.
They were chosen ahead of me, and I was put on the bench.
I eventually decided to ask the coaches for an opportunity (a wager) over the next month.
The wager was:
Let me open the bowling for 3 games.
If I did well – let me continue opening the bowling.
If I did badly – I’ll ride off into the sunset, and you’ll never see me again.
They took the bet.
Luckily for me, I took a stack of wickets (21 in three games), and they had to keep their end of the bargain.
More good performances led to me getting called up to the 1st team to be on that bench.
I quit my job in the fish factory and jumped on the bus.
Here’s where things changed.
On 21st July 2010, 30 minutes before the start of the game, our main bowler got injured, and I was handed my cap, with the first person I had to bowl to being the England captain (Andrew Strauss).
A couple of weeks later, in my second game, I took my first 5 wicket haul.
At the end of it, the coaches who hadn’t deemed me good enough, told me I was going to get a 3 year professional contract.
I’d achieved my goal.
Looking back, those six months were wild.
Players that were deemed better than me, didn’t turn pro.
I’d gone from no one really rating me to signing a full professional contract.
But it was what came before those six months, before making that wager, that made the difference.
There are so many lessons that I was able to take out of it and pass on, I wanted to give you some that may be helpful if you’re chasing after something and hoping that day will come.
Hold on for long enough
If I had given up after hearing the coaches didn’t think I was good enough, after bad games and injuries, I would have never made it.
But players who were deemed better than me at a young age, slowly dropped off. Leaving me with more of an opportunity.
If you think that your goal seems far away, find a way to keep holding on.
It’s those that are left at the end, holding on (sometimes by their fingernails), that get the chance.
Ask what you need to do
If you’re unsure of what your strengths are or what you need to work on, go ask.
Approach coaches and ask what they would like to see you working on.
That way, you now have a plan, guidance, and something to come back to them with.
Asking their advice will also give them a slight investment in you, as they are the ones who gave you the advice.
Create your opportunity
A large part of this story was the fact that I was able to create the opportunities I got.
The wager I put forward was me asking for that opportunity.
Instead of thinking that something would come my way, I would try to create it, either by asking or by being in the right place at the right time.
Don’t ask to be invited into a room.
See how you can get your foot in the door.
Embrace being different
Look for ways to stand out.
Whether it’s skills, technique, mindset, or work ethic, look to find something that makes you unique and then focus on that.
It’s easy to want to work on your weaknesses, but start by looking for strengths and making them your super-strengths.
Keep showing up
Things will click eventually, but you’ve got to keep being persistent.
Even on the days when you don’t see progress. Even some days, you’ll go backwards.
But one thing is for sure: if you’re not willing to give up, other people will.
At the time everything was happening, there were doubts, failures, criticisms, and many voices saying it wouldn’t work.
But if you stay at it, you’ll surprise yourself with how quickly things can change.
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