We're back with Part Two of Travels with Charlie as we speak to Charlie Hemphrey, who is currently out in Brisbane.
The Glamorgan opening batsman reveals how he has made the most of his time off thanks to the Big Bash, what he enjoys most about Cardiff and how Lukas Carey is getting on out in Australia...
1. How excited are you to trade the dreary weather of the Sunshine Coast for the sunny delights of Cardiff?
I can't wait to get back to Cardiff and get back playing for Glamorgan. I've been looking forward to it since I left. It’s actually been raining for a couple of weeks now, so hopefully Cardiff will offer a bit of a change!
I got informed recently by Queensland I wouldn't be getting another contract next season, which is always disappointing to hear, but it enables me to freshen up and hit the ground running for Glamorgan in April. It’s exciting to be able to get a full season in and not miss a few games at the end of the season, which was very frustrating.
2. With the mid-season break for the Big Bash, what are you up to?
The Big Bash was a great time for me to be able to take a break for a few weeks from the game using the new 'Paternity Leave' available to male players.
With the structure here it's quite regimented and the Big Bash going for so long now its a perfect time to step back, take a break and refresh, so taking Paternity Leave was ideal for me to spend some time with my family. I had been playing for 18 months straight so the timing was perfect.
After that it was back into training with the ‘leftover’ Queensland players, which is great as most players are away so it was a great time to get back into the hard work.
3. Grade cricket isn’t something that many people are familiar – what’s the standard like, and the style of games with innings across different weekends?
In grade cricket we play all three formats of the game, but the majority is two-day cricket with most of the games being Saturdays and the odd game being a Saturday/Sunday.
Before Christmas we use the Kookaburra ball which is a lot easier to bat against, whereas after Christmas we use the Aussie version of the Duke ball which swings and seams around a lot more so makes it a much more even contest.
The standard can vary from team to team and depending on state fixtures – you can come up against a club side with three or four state bowlers and that certainly improves the standard, so on the whole I’d say it’s quite a competitive level of cricket.
4. Outside of the playing style in Australia [mentioned in part 1], what are the other differences? Do teams train differently, is it slightly weirder playing in such big stadiums?
The main difference for me between the two cultures is the enjoyment factor. As well as a difference in playing styles, there’s a difference in how teams operate. The schedule of county cricket means there’s a lot of play, travel, top-up training, play, it’s quite compact and it’s great to be part of. Marnus and I both really enjoyed the change of environments in that respect.
Everything here in Shield cricket is quite structured. With the Big Bash going on for a couple of months of the season, those who aren’t playing in it can feel like the season gets a bit stale. The way the schedule works, sometimes it feels like we are professional trainers rather than professional cricketers. That’s why I love the intensity and the compact schedule of county cricket.
As for the grounds, it can feel weird playing at these massive stadiums and they can certainly feel very empty.
Adelaide is a brilliant ground with great facilities for the players, and Sydney has all the history. The SCG was the last ground I hadn't played at, and as it turns out I played my last game for Queensland there, so to say I have played at all the Australian Test grounds is pretty cool… not bad for a baggage handler at the airport!
5. Lukas Carey is out there with you – how is he getting on and can anyone understand his accent?
Lukas isn’t living with me but I can imagine that a nudge in the direction of the hoover might be needed now and then!
Joking aside, he’s been a fantastic addition to Sandgate and the club. He’s bowled really well and the boys there love him. As for his accent, there certainly isn’t any Australian creeping in there, which is a good thing, and he’s definitely still the boy from the ‘Bont’!
6. Having experienced Cardiff for a season now, what are some of your favourite parts of the city and what are you looking forward to when you return?
This is a tough question! It’s such a great city to live in and everything is so close. Rhiannah and I loved the Welsh countryside and it will be great to take Alastair out there in the summer. Even the parks and fields that are close by are something you don’t get here in Australia as much.
I am really excited to get back in the group again. The coaches and players have created an environment where the players just love turning up each day and it's great to be part of that. It definitely doesn’t feel like work, and it is certainly something I have missed.
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