An interview with Ocki – 2017 Season Preview

With the 2017 season dragging its heels and seeming like it will never come around (although it’s sneaking up on us!), we asked the Lowerhouse “Royal Correspondent” Paul Hargreaves to pose a few questions to our new 2017 professional Ocki. Paul gratefully asked some really meaningful questions and Ocki fired back with some really good answers. Below is what Ocki had to say! Roll on the season:

Tell us a bit about your personal and cricket background when growing up in South Africa?      

Basically I’d been born next to the sports field, both Mom and Dad played sport and that’s where the love for sport came from. Cricket started taking preference in my University days, when I started playing for the Boland senior side. After University I started playing for Brackenfell Cricket Club (International Umpire Marais Erasmus, played his cricket there) when not playing for Boland. During the English summer of 2011 I joined the Lancashire League. Since then I have played at two clubs in the league for three years each (East Lancashire CC and Accrington CC) and the 2017 season will see my playing for the “House”.

You’re not at Boland now and spending more time in England but are you able to get back to South Africa over the English winter and if so are you able to play any Club cricket to keep your eye in?  

Since moving over to the UK in 2015, we have only been home once and that was in December for a month. Whilst we were there I was lucky to train with Boland and Brackenfell CC. We were meant to play one game, but unlike SA the game rained out due to no covers being on the pitch the night before. It’s not like over here when we play in the rain… I have been fortunate to make friends in the UK that train over the winter and we have been netting on a regular basis.

Many of the Lowerhouse players do a bit of amateur boxing so we can take it on the chin, so please be candid. What were your thoughts on Lowerhouse as a team in your many encounters against them?    

I loved the pre-season boxing with the guys to be honest.  As I haven’t really done it before Charlie and Ben gave me a few tips and I ended up enjoying it a lot! To be fair I got a bit excited at times especially the short “sparring” sessions with Blez in the ring…

As for the team… we have had our fair share of words over the seasons, but we have always got on well after the games and ended up have a drink or two. And obviously the old faithful next to the field… Hopefully there will be a few “come on the house” and “there will be a wicket in a minute” shouts coming my way this season. A thing I have noticed over the seasons were, that  The House plays their cricket to win and you can see that on the field, there is no holding back, but off the field, all is good. That is one thing I am looking forward to this season, the fight and the wanting to do well for each other. A thing worth mentioning is the fact that I have  not been able to win a game against the “House”… I have come close but not one win for me yet!

With your knowledge of the Lowerhouse ground and wicket do you think it will suit your batting or bowling the most?      

Personally I think both. Batting wise it has always been a nice wicket to bat on once you get in. There is something in for the spinners and it’s always a nice challenge to bowl on the wicket. Saying that, this season is going to be easier than in the past as there is a great spinner to work with in Paddy. With me and Paddy working together I feel we can create a lot of pressure and feed off each other. With our batting line up, there will be a lot less pressure on me, which will allow me to play my game and enjoy myself.

With the introduction of 3 more teams the Lancashire League as made it’s biggest change of format since it began in 1892, even before Blez made his debut. Obviously this is a stepping stone. Did you feel a change was necessary and what would be the best final outcome?    

Personally I feel it’s a great move for league cricket. With a further 7 teams to join in the 2018 season things will start taking shape and it’s something to look forward to. In the end we play sport to play against the best and with the promotion/relegation involved it keeps clubs fighting till the end of the season.

Are you a big fan of Twenty20 and do you think the Lancashire League has the right balance between 20 over and 50 over cricket. Some of us old timers think it’s inevitable the millennials will have their way and more of a tilt to T-20 will surely come sooner or later.      

Have been hoping for a finals day for a while now. We are definitely moving towards the shorter format (the longer format remains the purest and best form). In the end we need to look at what will last longer and make the clubs more money to survive in tough times financially.

A pet hate of mine is the rules connected with lost time due to bad weather although I noted they helped you to become the only team to beat Champions Ramsbottom last season. I just think the least likely winner is rewarded too often. Would you keep the status quo, bring in D/L, or is there another option?  

We definitely need a different method for rain affected games. If you bat second in a rain affected game you will always have the better chance in winning with the current method we use in the league. D/L will probably be the best method if every club’s scorers know how to calculate it as it is not that easy! I will still claim we beat Rammy last season!!

Finally Ocki you probably know there is a keen local rivalry between Lowerhouse and Burnley. They have lost some talent whilst Lowerhouse have signed 2 or 3 decent amateurs. Where do you think the balance between the teams lies going into the 2017 season?

We have a squad of players that has the potential to do very well this season. Saying that, I feel you control what you can control. If we do our job and we do it well, I see us contending in all formats this season. It is the first time in my time in the League at a club that we have more than 13/14 players that can play first team cricket and compete with any other team in the league. I am really looking forward to the season, and like I said earlier I feel we can achieve a lot this season!

Thanks to Paul and Ocki for their input into a great article. More to follow before the season starts.


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