As cricket teachers go his CV is, to say the least, impressive. With 11 Test matches and 31 One Day Internationals under his belt you would be on a sticky wicket if you argued that Brian Murphy was not an ideal candidate to give Norfolk schoolchildren their first taste of the game.
The ex-Zimbabwe skipper, more used to pitting his wits against the Laras
and Tendulkars of the game, has had altogether more different fare on his
plate this summer. And the hallowed arenas such as Lord’s or the MCG have
been swapped for somewhat more humble venues including Aslacton and Newton
Flotman primary schools.
For the man who was playing for his country in the World Cup in South Africa as recently as March had to change his plans in a hurry after being
overlooked for Zimbabwe’s summer tour of England. In a remarkable twist of
fate he has been helping to spread the cricketing gospel to hundreds of
Norfolk schoolchildren as a hands-on ambassador for Swardeston’s community
coaching programme. It was thanks to the wonders of the web that this most
improbable of sporting scenarios came to be.
It all began when Swardeston’s Stuart Bartram decided to place an advert on a website after the club was let down by a would-be coach just before the start of the season. Much to everyone’s astonishment Brian Murphy’s name suddenly emerged from cyberspace. “To say we were amazed is an
understatement. We could not quite believe it was him. We had a number of
emails but Brian was obviously the leading contender,” said Bartram.
After negotiations with Swardeston chairman Mark Taylor the 26-year-old leg spin bowler was winging his way to Norfolk – a stunning catch for the club’s coaching programme headed by David Thomas. Brian, who has 47 wickets for his country to his credit, admitted he was both surprised and disappointed to be left out of the Zimbabwe touring party but hopes to represent his country again one day.
At 26 time is definitely on his side. But for now he is devoting his energies to coaching and playing for Swardeston. “They are good people. They are passionate about their cricket, especially the Thomas family and they put a lot of effort into making sure the club is run the right way.” He added: “I’ve really enjoyed the coaching. It’s important that
children get to see the game early.”
Youngsters at schools in Aslacton, Brooke, Carleton Rode, Newton Flotman, Hethersett, Tacolneston, Wreningham, West Earlham and Bawburgh could all be putting Murphy’s law into practice during the long summer holidays. The kids have been taught a lesson they will surely never forget.