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ACADEMY: Callum Jackson's England Under-17 Tour

14-Mar-2012

Sussex's up and coming wicketkeeper-batsman Callum Jackson is currently on a three-week tour of India with the England Under-17 squad and has been updating us on his progress.

13th February 2012

Day 1

Not the ideal start to a cricket tour I must say! Delayed at Heathrow for three hours due to adverse weather conditions, snow....typical ! Four hours before we were due to depart for India it snows for the first time this winter. Still, I would have taken the steaming 29 degrees of India for the -8 of Sussex any day.

From the moment we step outside of the airport; nuts! That is the only word that comes to mind. The smells, the humidity, the colours! Everything amplified to an almost intolerable level, but at the same time fascinating.
One of the first things I see is a family of four - Mum, Dad and two toddlers all squeezed onto a moped, with of course no helmets or proper safety equipment!

Every single piece of open space we come across is full, literally full, of people playing cricket! Mostly not with bats or balls but playing with whatever they can get their hands on, in some cases sticks and rocks.

Despite the dust, dirt and poverty I find myself in awe of this place. There seems to be something going on all the time, it’s busy like I have never seen before! So busy, so colourful, so manic it is almost impossible for me to comprehend. There seems to be certain lawlessness. I think the best way to describe my first impression of India is controlled chaos!

Day 2, 3, 4

As a team we have immersed ourselves into the training camp and are slowly becoming acclimatised to the conditions. 30 degrees Celsius and humid.... Slow, low, wickets with plenty of spin... That’s India!

A typical day consists of a 6:30 wakeup call followed by health monitoring and breakfast, a one hour study session at the hotel and then travel to the training ground in Pune. Two hours of batting against local bowlers and our own spinners, and Strength & Conditioning rotations then back to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon we travel back to the ground for a further two hours of batting/bowling/keeping rotations at the ground. Another hour of study back at the hotel before dinner, then a review of the day before we crash out for the night. It’s pretty full on!

Day 5

We had our social responsibility project today where we visited a charity school in the morning, which was a great experience. We made a presentation to the children who were interested in cricket about what it takes to be an elite sportsman. They then showed us the sort of cricket games they usually play a break times and insisted we join in. The rest of the school joined us as the bell rang for break time and they mobbed us. As a team we must have signed about thirty autographs each, which was a first for all of us!

In the afternoon we organised a quick cricket tournament with fifty children from a charity, which takes talented and passionate children from the slums and gives them experience and skills through cricket.

As a team we arranged the whole event including choosing the charities, fund raising for the event, transport, activities for the day, food for the kids, t-shirts and post event donations to the charities.

Seeing the smiles on the faces of the children that we had connected with and knowing as a team that we had made the whole thing happen made it a very emotional day, with over half of our team reduced to tears as the charity coordinator and the children said their thanks’ and goodbyes.

Personally I felt the community project was a great success and I learnt a huge amount about myself, my team-mates and the impact you can have on one person’s life by showing them a day of kindness and enthusiasm! I would like to thank everyone who sponsored me to help fund this event.

Day 6

Back to training today, with more middle practice ahead of our first match of the tour tomorrow. It will be tough game against an adult side equivalent of Premier League standard, so I hope to get a good night’s sleep. Not easy with the non-stop bustle of life in India going on outside our hotel day and night!

Callum

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