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By Peter Della Penna
Muhammad Ghous has returned to New Jersey after spending four weeks
training with reigning English County champions Nottinghamshire. The
21-year-old USA off-spinner was joined at the county by fellow USA
prospect Adrian Gordon and can’t say enough good things about his time
“The atmosphere was really good,” said Ghous. “They had a standard.
Everything was really good. The practices were totally different, like I
had never seen before. It was totally proper cricket, proper training.
Everything was set up, organized in a good way. It was probably the best
organization I’ve seen.”
“I would like to go back there. The people are really nice. I would just want to go every year.”
The trip was
organized by ICC Americas Performance Officer Andy Pick and financed in
part by USACA. According to Ghous, the experience allowed him to
participate in training sessions for up to four hours a day.
Image (right) - Muhammad Ghous bowling against Australia at the
2010 ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand. [Courtesy Daniela Zaharia/USACA]
“We had the best training,” said Ghous. “They provided everything. We
attended all the practices with the first team, the second team and the
academy. Afterward if you wanted to do another little practice, you
could use the indoor [facility], the gym. We used everything.”
Ghous particularly enjoyed getting to work with some of the various
players with international experience including Chris Read, Adam Voges,
Samit Patel and Stuart Broad.
“I got a chance to work with Stuart Broad,” said Ghous. “I had a net
session with him twice. I was bowling to him. It was a good experience. I
bowled good to him. He actually was injured so he couldn’t bowl. He had
a rib injury so he was just practicing batting.”
The one thing that stood out to Ghous that he felt set the county
players apart from those he’s played with and against in the USA is
“Every time we practiced, the first 15-20 minutes, the physio will
take us and do some fitness training. If we don’t have a practice, we
would just go to the gym, do some cardio and lift some weights,” said
Ghous. “Once you’re fully fit, you can compete with these players too.
These guys are all fit.”
Ghous realizes it’s a major challenge to achieve the same fitness
standards in the USA and the success that it can lead to for the
national team without a professional structure in place. Until then,
players will continue to struggle for consistency heading into tours.
“I don’t think it’s the players fault. We don’t have enough time.
Before the tournaments, everyone is busy with their work. If we don’t
have contracts like these other players… these other players have
contracts. All they do is practice and fitness. That’s all they do
rather than work.”
“With us, we have to go to school. We have to go to work. In our own
time, we have to go to the gym which is really hard to stay on track. If
you’re not gonna make money, you cannot run your family… unless the
board is paying you good money, and in that case, you can practice every
day. You can go to the gym every day and you don’t have to worry about
working and you can support your family too.”
While in the UK, Ghous played as a club pro for a pair of matches in
the Durham area for Evenwood Cricket Club. He also played one match in
Doncaster and two matches for the Notts Academy side. Ghous says the
only grounds that are better than the ones he played club cricket at in
the UK are the ones he played on in New Zealand during the 2010 Under-19
“The grounds are so nice,” said Ghous. “Everything is properly
organized so you want to come there early to do your warmups,
throwdowns, a little bit of bowling practice. You want to play cricket.
Everybody is an hour early.”
Outside of the cricket, the players were taken by Nottinghamshire
batting coach Paul Johnson to a Nottingham Forest soccer match on one of
their first nights in the city. Ghous was grateful for the hospitality
provided by everyone in Nottingham, but especially the generosity shown
by Pick and Johnson.
Ghous was eager to apply the things he learned in the UK to his club
cricket in New Jersey and in his first match playing for Prince Cricket
Club in New Jersey’s 40-over Millennium Cricket League, Ghous scored 77
and took three wickets on May 7 in a win for Prince.