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Captain's Log: Alex Ballard, Cam Cricket Club

All Areas > Sport > Cricket

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 26th June 2024, 09:00, Tags: Captain's Log

Batsman Alex Ballard. Picture, Kev Humble Photography Batsman Alex Ballard. Picture, Kev Humble Photography

It’s quite a landmark year for Alex Ballard because it’s the 21st summer he’s been playing for Cam Cricket Club.

And understandably it’s something he’s very proud about.

Like so many at the club, he started in their youth section and the now 30-year-old has certainly made a big impression along the way because he’s in his second season as captain of the club’s flagship men’s team.

This is the all-rounder’s 10th season as a regular in the 1st XI, who play in Division Two of the Gloucestershire County League, but he actually made his debut for the top team many years before at the tender age of just 12.

And it’s a game that Ballard can remember vividly.

“It was at Down Hatherley,” he told The Local Answer. “We’d already won our division and the 2nds were going for the title in their division so we didn’t want to weaken them.

“My dad was playing for the 1sts so they thought it would be nice for me to play with him.”

So how did he get on?

“I batted at 11 and got nought,” he said with a laugh. “I think I faced four balls. Their bowler didn’t slow down. He wasn’t quick but he felt quick to a 12-year-old.

“I was out bowled, the ball bounced off my body and rolled onto the stumps.”

Ballard, who was brought up in Cam but now lives in Dursley, has come a long way since then, of course.

He broke into senior cricket when he started playing for the club’s 3rds at the age of 15 and has made good progress ever since.

These days he’s a top-order batsman – he bats anywhere in the top six – and is also a right-arm swing bowler who comes on first change.

“I’m an aggressive batsman, I’m very strong hitting in the V over the ground,” said Ballard.

He’s scored a couple of centuries and taken five wickets in an innings on quite a few occasions so is a genuine all-rounder.

Throw in the fact that he’s also a captain and it’s clear that he brings plenty to the cricket club.

“I was captain pretty much all the way through from under-11s to under-17s,” said the former Rednock School pupil.

Cricket has obviously been a big part of his life from an early age.

His dad Steve, who has been chairman of Cam for the past six years, was a good cricketer back in the day and played in the Lancashire League when he lived up north.

But when he moved back to south Gloucestershire – he used to live in Frampton - he didn’t get involved with Cam straight away.

“He started coming along when I played for the juniors,” explained Alex. “He started coaching the team I was playing in but wasn’t playing for the club.”

But all that soon changed.

“At the end of the youth season  the coaches used to play a match against the age group team,” Alex continued. “It was the under-15s and my dad got a good 60. Three weeks later he was in the 1st XI!”

And he played for them for nine years before dropping down into the 2nds.

“He was an opening batsman,” said Alex. “He was a good player, he played alongside Geoff Marsh and Milton Small when he was playing in the Lancashire League.”

He doesn’t play now but is obviously very proud as Alex, who was vice-captain to Ryan Malpass for four or five years, tries to mastermind Cam’s return to the top flight in the County League.

So what sort of captain is Alex Ballard?

“I’m fair,” he said. “My main aim is to get the lads to take responsibility for what they are doing.

“I try to promote positivity. I want everyone to enjoy their cricket but the aim when we cross that white line is to win.”

Cam were relegated from Division One at the end of 2022 and were pushing for promotion for much of last year before finishing fourth.

“Our aim is to win every game and get promotion,” added Ballard.

“I think we should be an established Division One side, the potential is there but availability is the key.”

The club have plenty of players to select from because they run three Saturday league teams, a Sunday XI and have a thriving youth section that numbers up to 150. They also have a women’s XI who played both hardball and softball.

That’s a lot of cricket being played at the club and Ballard is keen to namecheck some of the people who do so much to make sure everything at the club runs smoothly.

“We’re a family-orientated club all run by volunteers,” he said. “Our groundsman Steve Rice does a brilliant job, his wicket is great.

“It’s a great square for scoring runs, it has a consistent bounce and always plays well.”

Rice is a bowler for the 2nd XI and plays alongside teenaged wicketkeeper Ben Lane, who helps out with a lot of the youth team coaching at the club.

Ben’s parents, Simon and Janet, are the club vice-chairman and youth representative respectively, although, like Ballard senior, they perform many other roles as well.

As does Jake Dolbear, who is club secretary and also Ballard’s vice-captain.

“He does a massive amount of work off the field,” said Ballard.

And he’s also a good cricketer.

“He bats in the top four,” continued Ballard. “He used to be a wicketkeeper but had problems with his back so he’s now a lofty flight spinner. He sets his field up and the batsmen fall for it!

“He’s a very talented cricketer, probably our best player. He’s a good all-round sportsman because  he plays football for Dursley Town.”

Ballard used to play football for Cam – they share the village playing field with the cricket club - and he’s a keen supporter of League Two club Walsall.

“My dad and I are season-ticket holders, we go all over the country supporting them,” he said.

Football fans will know that Walsall just missed out on promotion at the end of last season, something that Steve and Alex will be hoping doesn’t befall the cricket club in the next few months!


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