Northamptonshire seamer Buck hoping Australia stint will give him extra edge ahead of new season

Northamptonshire bowler Nathan Buck is enjoying sunshine and competitive cricket on the other side of the world as he prepares for the new season in less than two months' time.

By Jeremy Casey
Tuesday, 15th February 2022, 9:48 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th February 2022, 9:50 am

The 30-year-old is currently in Australia and will be spending the next few weeks in Melbourne, playing club cricket for Surrey Hills CC.

Buck is determined to hit the ground running after a disappointing 2021 season which saw him badly affected by a calf injury.

The former Lancashire man played just four County Championship matches last summer, taking 10 wickets at 43.6 apiece, and he only took part in three of the Steelbacks' Vitality T20 Blast matches.

Nathan Buck in action for Northants

A key player in all formats for Northants in previous seasons, it was a frustrating campaign for Buck, who is determined to once again make his mark in 2022.

It is something of a fresh start for everybody at the County Ground.

John Sadler has taken over as head coach from David Ripley, and Buck, who at the beginning of last summer signed a one-year contract extension that expires at the end of this season, is keen to be a crucial cog in the new boss's Northants machine.

And he believes his stint in Australia will play a big part in him being able to do that.

Nathan Buck has been a consistent performer in white and red ball cricket during his time at Wantage Road

“It’s been brilliant so far, I came over to play seven or eight games and to get some good outdoors time in,” Buck told nccc.co.uk

“I prefer bowling outdoors, as I think every other bowler in the world does, and it’s such a good experience to get away."

Buck has been to Australia for pre-season stints on three other occasions, and he says as well as match practice, the move is invaluable due to the fact a Kookaburra ball is used Down Under.

“Training indoors through the winter is good to work on a few technical things, but you can’t beat playing in competitive games," said the seam bowler, who claimed two for 43 and also hit 49 as an opening batsman as Surrey Hills beat St Kevins Old Collegians by 44 runs in a Wright Shield match on Saturday.

Northants bowler Nathan Buck is currently playing for Melbourne club side Surrey Hills

"Over in Australia they use the Kookaburra ball in all formats and it obviously doesn’t do as much as the Dukes back home which is a good thing to work with.

“Something I knew I needed to work on was being relentless with my line and length, and bowling with a red Kookaburra helps because if you’re off fractionally over here you get punished.”

Although he is literally on the other side of the world, Buck has been staying in touch with Northants bowling coach Chris Liddle, and Sadler as well, so he feels is very much part of the Wantage Road group.

“There’s a lot of ownership of your own training and development when you’re overseas, but I’ve still had a lot of chats with Chris Liddle to just check in on a few things, sending videos back and forth, and of course with John Sadler," said the Leicester-born player.

“I’ve got close contact with our S&C (strength and conditioning coach) Chris Lorkin still too, so I’m doing all the same fitness and recovery work as the other lads, just in slightly hotter conditions!"

So what about the prospects for the year ahead?

“I had a couple of technical points to work on and catching up with some miles in the legs after last year," said Buck.

"Everything is going in the right direction to put me in good stead for this season with Northamptonshire, and I’m pretty confident going into this year, I feel fit and healthy.

“One of the reasons you come away is to keep your rhythm over the winter and I think that will put me in good stead for the back end of pre-season and then for the first County Championship game on April 7."

Buck, who will return to the UK ahead of the County's pre-season trip to Singapore in March, has also signed up to play club cricket this summer for East Anglian Premier League side Sawston & Babraham Cricket Club, who are based in Cambridgeshire.

It means he will be available to play for Sawston at weekends whenever he is not involved with Northants.

Sawston are the reigning East Anglian Premier League champions.