Coronavirus sport lockdown leaves former Culford School pupil Jack Beaumont waiting to be able to captain Suffolk for the first time
When new Suffolk cricket captain Jack Beaumont set off for Australia last September, no-one knew how the world would have changed by the time he returned. Nick Garnham spoke to him.
Jack Beaumont was due to return from Australia just three days before the start of this season’s Read Brothers East Anglian Premier League.
The Hundon-based Copdock & Old Ipswichian all-rounder was originally due to land back in England on Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s opening round of matches.
After the trek up to Norfolk to face last season’s runners-up Swardeston, Beaumont was due to lead Suffolk as the county’s new white-ball skipper for the first time in a friendly versus Cambridgeshire at Sudbury the following day.
The 24-year-old was confirmed as captain last November in succession to Sudbury’s Adam Mansfield, who stood down across all three formats last season.
By then Beaumont was already in Australia, spending the off-season furthering his playing and coaching experience at Ashwood CC in the Eastern Cricket Association in Melbourne.
“We finished the season, but just missed out on the finals, although the play-offs were postponed due to the coronavirus,” reflected Beaumont, back home in Hundon, near Haverhill.
The former Culford School pupil, who batted at No.3, ended the season as his side’s leading run-scorer, compiling 382 runs at an average of 24.69 with a season-high of 57.
That was across a mixture of 40-over and 80-over Saturday league matches and Twenty/20 midweek league games.
He also picked up 21 wickets at 17.52 apiece, claiming 3-3, 3-8 and 4-64 with his left-arm spin on three successive Saturdays.
“We played 18 matches, but had several more completely washed-out – it was a very wet summer and frustrating as we played one, missed one, played two, then missed two.”
Beaumont, a Level 2 coach who has previously played for both Mildenhall and Sudbury, took some squad sessions as well as doing one-to-one coaching.
He hit it off with club coach Chris Harris, who has previously been assistant coach of both the Melbourne Renegades and Stars T20 sides in the Big Bash.
“Everyone at the club looked after me and they were very accommodating – a really good bunch.
“I got on really well with Chris and found it really interesting talking to him. It was good to watch how he ran his sessions, getting everyone to interact with each other,” said Beaumont.
His frustrations at missing out on the end-of-season play-offs and with the weather paled into insignificance with what happened next.
Beaumont was due to spend three weeks travelling, visiting the Whitsunday Islands on the Barrier Reef, before making his way down the east coast to Sydney.
But as the coronavirus situation steadily worsened he decided to head home, rather than face the prospect of potentially being stranded Down Under.
Beaumont’s flight to Singapore was delayed 24 hours due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it took him three days before he landed safely back at Heathrow.
He said: “It was a worry, especially for my family as I was so far away, so rather than stick it out I decided it would be best to come home and be ready for the start of the season, whenever that may be.
“I am now working with Suffolk coach Andy Northcote running his cricket academy, but of course there are no Easter coaching camps as there would normally be, so we are working behind-the-scenes to ensure everything is prepared for when life returns to normal.”
Beaumont, who is also helping Copdock with their social media, continued: “While I understand the situation we are in you do build yourself up to the start of the season.
“Being my first season as captain in my head I was thinking about training sessions, team selection, targets for the season and now that has all dropped off.
“The only saving grace is that the situation was a slow burner and you could see the writing was on the wall.
“As important as cricket is, the current situation is far more important than cricket when you are talking about people’s health and saving lives. You just hope that everyone you know stays safe and comes out the other side.
“Everyone needs to stick together and when the Government and authorities say it is safe to return to playing sport, we will do so.”
With no cricket in England until May 28 at the earliest, Suffolk’s T20 campaign has been postponed and the 50-over Trophy in the newly-branded National Counties Cricket Association competition may also be scuppered.
There is more chance that the three-day Championship campaign, scheduled to start in mid-July, will be able to go ahead.
Beaumont said: “I hope that we will be able to get some form of cricket in this year, and that I get to captain Suffolk in at least one game, otherwise I may be the first Suffolk skipper to go undefeated during their first season but without playing a game!”
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