Ex-England keeper Jack Richards plays role in Belgium's success

Thu, Jun 23, 2011 11:28 PM

Ex-England keeper Jack Richards plays role in Belgium's success
Jack Richards
Former England Wicketkeeper Jack Richards, now Performance Director for Cricket Belgium explains his role as Belgium qualify for the play offs at ICC European Division 2 Championship.

As a player Richards was often described as competitive and outspoken, he played 8 tests and 22 ODIs for England, his notable score of 133 coming against Australia in Perth in the 1986/1987 Ashes series. For the past few years he has been working in the shipping industry in Belgium, but just recently got back involved in cricket and took his ECB Level 3 at the European course in Edinburgh earlier this year, now Richards is assisting in the development of performance of Belgium's team.

"The attitude of the players when I first came into the role was something that needed adapting; it was focused more individually than on the team itself. The biggest challenge to increase standards was to get that consistent attitude of making it fun and to respect every member of the team, if you have that united attitude it makes it a lot easier."

Belgium has had a really good tournament so far at the ICC European Division 2 as hosts, but Richards is always looking for improvements in his team.

"The players need to take a personal approach to cricket and practices in the same way, every week to aim to reach their full potential. The winter is great for the guys as we use the indoor nets at the British School once a week and regular practice can commence.

"In the summer it is more difficult to get out in the middle with the availability of facilities, however this is improving and developing, which will naturally bring more success when the team have a more stable platform to train from," said Richards.

There has been great development work going in Belgium to improve the performance aspect of all cricket. "The standard of juniors has really been given a push to improve; there are many school fun days of cricket which coaches are working with to help improve the standard."

There are many expatriate Indian and Pakistani players around the Antwerp area who have raised the awareness for the sport in Belgium and give the indigenous population more knowledge of the sport. "We are trying to make playing for Belgium an honour and create an elite group so they know what to expect at each practice, they are serious and disciplined and feel proud to play for the badge of Belgium."

The Division 2 Championship has been a very open tournament with no real expectation of which teams were going to do well, having never played each other at this completive format before, there have been surprises here.

"The standard here has been up and down - Isle of Man, Spain and ourselves have performed well, but then Austria beat Spain; within the group of teams there have been extremes.

"From a Belgian perspective, we have some very talented players, five of the team will be playing in the ICC European U19 Division 2 Championship. I am very pleased with how the team has performed so far and hopefully we will continue to, and make our way to the ICC European Division 1 in Jersey and Guernsey next month," concluded Richards.

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