Blog - Sam Haggo in Christchurch
My adventure began to take shape in January of this year when Sydenham cricket club got in touch, asking if I would be interested in playing for their women's premier team.
Shoot forward to October the 8th and I was boarding a plane from Glasgow to Christchurch, where Sydenham is based (via Dubai, Bangkok and Sydney). My fellow team mates from Scotland are well aware of my experiences with airports namely the mishaps that usually occur and so I was very happy to arrive safely with all luggage intact.
After graduating from university, I had planned to use this winter to focus solely on cricket, and so it is a huge part of my life on a daily basis which I am absolutely loving.
Sydenham train twice weekly with a 50 over game in the Christchurch Premier League on Saturday’s. One thing I'm just getting my head around is the fact that, unlike home, cricket clubs here usually play on large parks, often with 3 or 4 pitches, which means that boundaries can overlap. It can be quite bizarre when you're sweeping as a boundary rider, yet finding myself close to being in the circle on another pitch..
Ex-Black Caps player Chris Harris is our club coach and he has been so generous in offering his time and advice to me, which I'm very grateful for. In addition to my club commitments, I began training with the Canterbury Magicians, the provincial team, and was subsequently named in their 2014/15 squad. The programme entails four sessions a week, including mental skills, batting/bowling, group fitness, such as spin class and Pilates, and fielding/match practice. The set-up feels very professional, and I hope to learn lots from this high performance programme.
I feel like I am being pushed and learning so much each week, especially from my team mates, several of whom are New Zealand White Ferns players. We had our first friendly/trial-esque match last weekend, and I couldn't quite believe it when the skipper asked me to open with bowling alongside Lea Tahuhu, who opens the bowling for New Zealand.
I managed to get 1-8 off my 5 overs, with other internationalist Amy Satterthwaite taking an incredible one-handed catch off my bowling at short cover to dismiss the opener. Opportunities like that are a real confidence booster, and something to build on and hopefully maintain, as the season progresses, since being an opening bowler is a new role to me which I only really began doing half way through last season.
I am living with a family from the cricket club up in the hills which overlook the city and the Southern Alps. You could say it's not the worst digs, and the fact they have an AstroTurf net with self-feeding bowling machine in the back garden further supplements this understatement. The family and everyone else I've met out here from the cricket community have been so nice and helpful, and I feel I’ve settled in right away.
It's not all work and no play though (not that cricket training is a dreary task!). I've had time to do some sightseeing and exploring of the city, which is a fantastic place but still very much rebuilding after the 2011 earthquakes.
I've been in a simulated ice storm at the Antarctic centre, watched some Davis Cup tennis between NZ and China, and browsed the beautiful botanic gardens - although Alan Titchmarsh I am not.
Furthermore, the other week we went a 3 hour road trip to a place called Arthur's Pass. It was an incredible journey with amazing lakes and snow covered mountains. It was just a shame that we accidently stopped 10 minutes short of the actual namesake and focal point of the journey. Serious rookie error there.
In the next couple of months I hope to do some more travelling, with Queenstown high on my agenda as I've heard that it's an absolutely incredible place. Watching cricket is a good down-time activity too, and one of the perks of being in the Magicians squad is free tickets to watch the Canterbury men's team play T20 at Hagley Oval... need to practise my one-handed crowd catches for that $5,000 prize.
World Cup fever is well and truly starting to build here too. It was good to catch up with the Scotland lads and watch them when they were over here playing recently. All the locals I spoke to were really impressed with them, and I'm sure they won't be taken lightly at the World Cup, especially after the close 1-run defeat to a strong NZ XI.
Seeing the preparations for the tournament happening in February, combined with the recent news of the Women's T20 Qualifiers in Thailand next year, is definitely driving me to put the yards in even more in my own game. Playing at a World Cup has long been a goal of mine, and hopefully I can use the opportunities presented to me here with cricket and fitness to make sure I book myself a seat on the plane to the qualifiers.
All in all, I’m having a great time with good intense training sessions and many opportunities to play cricket. I'm not quite a literary genius but if I get the gig again in a few months time, I might be able to update you further on how things are going.