March 2019 - Jack Stearman

It’s March, the sun is shining, the first cut of the year has taken place on the outfield and thoughts are turning towards the season. For young players, perhaps more so than any other group, the season ahead contains so much opportunity and excitement. Indoor training sessions have started, fixtures released and targets are being considered. Getting picked for the county, establishing that place, scoring runs, taking wickets, winning games, catching up with mates, going on tour – the season ahead offers so much hope.

For some young players that hope will materialise into substance and big things will happen. Big things happened to Jack Stearman last year. Named Wiltshire Cricketer of the Year in September 2018, Jack had a stunning season for South Wilts CC which culminated in a full first team debut for the senior Wiltshire championship side.

Along the way, he notched 100’s for his club side’s 4th XI and 3rd XI and 75* for the 2nd XI before being selected for a 1st XI league fixture against New Milton CC in the Southern Premier League in August. As captain of the South Wilts 1st XI, James Hibberd notes, ‘he was instantly comfortable playing Premier League cricket’, making 20 not out in an 8 wicket victory.

More was to come though and two games later Jack made his maiden 1st team century, scoring 108 against the Hampshire Academy, before making his senior county debut against Oxfordshire in the last game of the Minor Counties Championship, managing 25 in the second innings. Hibberd batted with Stearman during his 108, and having worked with him at the club through the junior age groups, identifies his inner belief and ability to rarely get flustered as key strengths in taking his batting forward.

Interestingly, and on reflection, Jack stated that his pre-season targets were to score hundreds for one of the club’s senior sides and his county age group, plus make it into the club second XI. So whilst his achievements were hugely impressive and beyond his own beliefs, in response to questions about his year, he also pointed out that he’d identified areas for improvement from 2017 and worked hard over the winter to perfect them.

He also notes that a strong start to the season laid the foundation for that belief in his own ability to blossom. 145* in the first 4th team game of the year was followed by 117* for the 3rd XI and selection for South Wilts 2nd XI and Wiltshire 2nd XI, both of which was a huge confidence boost. Jack puts a lot of emphasis on his mental preparation for games, role-playing scenario’s ahead of the game to consider obstacles that he may encounter and solutions he could deploy to get around them – for example, not being able to score over a prolonged period of time.

In the moments directly before batting he tends to listen to music and watching the cricket to understand better what he’ll be up against. Mentally preparing ahead of time and then immediately before a performance enables Jack to be ready for most of what he encounters – and seems to be a method that works for him.

ClubLife asked Jack about his thought processes during an innings and his responses are worth considering by any young player looking to score runs. He says, ‘I try to stay relaxed about any situation I am faced with as this allows me to concentrate fully on the task at hand. By not concentrating much on other distractions, I feel I can purely focus on my individual skills which I can use to reach my goals.’

Those comments speak of a very driven, very thoughtful individual who takes the time to learn and know his own game, his strengths and weaknesses. This is reflected by Rob Pittman, South Wilts 2nd XI captain who described Jack as, ‘very level headed on and off the field – nothing seems to phase him which he definitely uses to his advantage when batting.’

And clearly, during the winter of 2017, Jack spent some time committing to improving on his weaker areas which shows a great deal of resilience and dedication. Strong mental skills, which combined with talent and application, are a potent combination in terms of potential performances. Indeed, Pittman also recognises this and added, ‘for me he has the mental approach to succeed at the club’s highest level.’

However, it’s not all been plain sailing. Jack recognises that he puts a large amount of pressure on himself to perform, and when he doesn’t, it increases the stress on himself to prove that he’s worth a place in the team. As many cricketer’s can attest, the pressure we put on ourselves is often the most inhibiting kind of strain, preventing us from thinking clearly and focusing exclusively on the moment in hand.

So, recognising situations when his own demands of himself are becoming destructive, trusting his organised methodology and technique, and believing in those methods are key to Jack pushing on in 2019. Jack clearly has a lot of talent and as Hibberd notes, ‘he’s one to watch out for!’ We’ll be watching in interest!

Wiltshire Cricket would like to take this opportunity to wish all players, young and old, the very best for the forthcoming season. For young players in particular, there is much to learn from Jack’s approach and story, and we look forward to seeing who blossoms out on the paddock in 2019. It really does just go to show what is possible and it’s worth reiterating that Jack started 2018 scoring back to back hundreds for his club’s 4th and 3rd team, and ended it in the senior men’s Wiltshire XI, having scored a ton for his club 1st team in the Southern Premier League!

Remember that big score or great spell could just be around the corner and working hard, believing in yourself and focusing on your strengths whilst working on weaknesses, is a great foundation for improvement.