Former MCC Young Cricketer Alex Gidman has described his time at Lord’s as ‘instrumental’ in his career, after being awarded a benefit by Gloucestershire.
Gidman, the Gloucestershire captain, was a YC at the Home of Cricket for two seasons as a teenager, before forging a successful career in the West Country.
The now Gloucestershire stalwart wasn’t offered a deal at the county as a youngster, turning to the YC scheme.
Gidman said: “When I came up to Lord’s I was 18-19 and having been told by Gloucestershire that I wasn’t good enough at that stage to get a professional contract was a bit of a kick in the teeth.
“But the development that I got at Lord’s and the learning that I went though there was probably the most important two years of my career.
“Without really being aware of it I obviously improved and developed enough to get a contract at the end of it.
“Looking back now, without those two years I don’t think I’d have got to where I am without it. They were instrumental in what I’ve achieved.
“I’m very grateful to the MCC for their part in my career.”
Gidman skippers a Gloucestershire side heavily connected with MCC cricketers, with a number of ex-YCs currently plying their trade in Bristol.
Gidman’s brother. Will, is back playing for his native county having spent time with Durham after leaving Lord’.
Ex-New Zealand batsman Hamish Marshall and recent graduate Ian Cockbain are regulars in the top order, while Ireland international Kevin O’Brien played one-day cricket during 2011.
The number of YCs at Gloucestershire doesn’t surprise Gidman though, who believes the scheme offers a lifeline to those who pass through.
Gidman added: “The YC scheme has become even more important in the last few years, probably because money is so tight at a lot of counties, contracts are pretty hard to come by at the moment.
“So to have that extra avenue there at the MCC is an absolute lifeline for a lot of kids these days.
“It’s not just the cricket as well. Living on my own in London and all that entails was a huge learning curve for me as a young man leaving home for the first time.
“We’ve taken a couple who’ve come through the YC system on and I’ve also played against a few recently and they’ve been very impressive. So the scheme is obviously working very well at the moment.
“The proof is there that it is a great scheme and they’re producing some good cricketers.”
The awarding of a benefit year to a county cricketer is traditionally given to players who have achieved a significant amount with a club over a long period of time.
Despite having only just reached his 30th birthday, Gidman has played all his first-class cricket at Gloucestershire, leading the team since 2009.
Gidman admitted the news had led him to reflect on his career so far – and what the future might hold: “It’s a nice feeling but also a bit scary as it feels a bit like the beginning of the end when these things happen,” added the all-rounder.
“The first thing that goes though your head is ‘crikey, have I been playing that long!’
“But I’ve got a lot of games under my belt and I suppose I’ve been thinking back at everything which has happened over the years.”
Gidman’s name has been mentioned in the frame for international honours in the past, though he had to pull out of an England A tour to India in 2004-05 which he was due to captain.
Taking his youthful Gloucestershire side as far as possible remains Gidman’s highest priority, but he remains hopeful of pushing for selection at the highest level.
“I’m constantly desperate to play for England all the time, but you’ve got to make sure you take care of other things first,” he said.
“I think the days are gone of hoping or wanting to play 100 tests and 200 ODIs to be honest but you’ve got to keep trying to improve on your game all the time.
“I think naturally you always want to be at your best and if that means you’re good enough to get in the England squad and play a few games then you never give up on that.”