It has been announced today that Lancashire spinner Stephen Parry has joined Australian Big Bash League side Brisbane Heat for the rest of the tournament. Researching an article for All Out Cricket magazine, I spoke to Stephen recently about his early days and how it could all have been so different.
Stephen Parry made his England debut in March 2104, playing a handful of ODIs and T20s. This achievement would have been unthinkable when he was trying to make his way in the game. John Stanworth, Lancashire’s Academy Director, says Parry ‘didn’t quite get it as a younger player’ – a charge Parry readily admits:
“I was in and out of the age group sides until I made a breakthrough in the under 16s. I had a decent year and then at under 17s, I had a really good year. I bowled well and I batted at four. I was the leading wicket-taker by far. I got picked for the Academy and then I think I kind of believed it was just going to happen. Well, it didn’t and Stanny [John Stanworth] kicked me off.
“It was a bit of a wake-up call. I’d been on top of the world the year before and now I was off the Academy. I hadn’t pushed on enough. No-one wanted it more for me than Stanny and he was probably disappointed. I was upset and disappointed too at the time but now I know it was for my own good.
“I could’ve gone either way then. I decided to postpone university and I went to Australia to play cricket – and I think I probably grew up a bit. When I came back, I went trialling all over the place off my own bat and then eventually I got a chance of a game for the Academy after another player got injured. I got 96 not out. This was half way through the season and I then had a run in the side and got a contract at the end of that year, when I was 20.
“You could argue that 20 is quite late but I think sometimes it’s important to go through the experiences. Having been dropped, it was all about how I reacted. I could’ve walked away but, as my Dad says, I was like a bad smell – always hanging around! It helped that I’ve always really enjoyed my cricket and whether I’m playing for my country or my league club, I just try and bowl my best ball each time.”