Date: 1st Jul 2022
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Date: 26th December 2021


Formby and Derbyshire

This is the first of five player features, one on each of the the five days of this week. All are now professional cricketers,all homegrown in the Liverpool Comp, and all with a different story to tell of how they got to where they are now. They are just some of several players from the Comp now playing at this level and all are looking forward to whatever the season of 2022 will bring.  

Monday: Ben Aitchison. Tuesday Gavin Griffiths. Wednesday Ian Cockbain. Thursday Ellie Threlkeld. Friday Mattie McKiernan.

Number 1

When Ben Aitchison was named in Wisden’s Players Under 24 team of 2021 there was no one more surprised than Ben himself.  “I had just completed my first full year in County Cricket and although satisfied with my performance, it came as a pleasant shock”. He said. It has also given added impetus to the pursuit of a career in cricket which was by no means certain even at the age of 20.

Ben’s journey into County cricket has been far from the traditional pathway followed by the majority of young cricket professionals. No County age group cricket before 18, and even then only briefly. Club cricket only from age 11 with his pals at Formby Cricket Club, a club where he still played 10 League games in the 2021 season, saying “I go back to play with my mates”.

A fine rugby Union player with Waterloo and capped through the Lancashire age groups, Ben confesses that he was never sure which sport he would end up pursuing.  He values the positive and supportive influence of his family with Dad Ian representing Lancashire County RFU and England U20 at Rugby Union, and Sister Holly, now a full England International after a successful spell with Great Britain Sevens Rugby and currently playing for Saracens in the Allianz Premier Division.

Although playing in a few Liverpool Competition cup matches, Southport born Ben made his full first team League debut in 2015 with Formby when aged 15 in a game which he remembers well. “Who wouldn’t?” said Ben. “Stephen Parry was our skipper alongside Gary Keedy and I shared a 20 odd run stand with Haseeb Hameed to win the game against Birkenhead Park by seven wickets.”

After such an unforgettable introduction, Ben played mainly second team cricket for the remainder of the season before becoming an ever-present in the first team at the start of the following season. It was during the next few years, whilst still playing County U18 Rugby, that Ben recognises the significant influence that players like Parry and Keedy and in particular, former Cheshire and Lancashire man, Ian Cockbain Senior, had on him. “Coey encouraged me a lot, gave me a good go and I remember really enjoying my cricket through that time “he said.

Towards the end of this period, when aged 18, Lancashire began to take notice and Ben was called into the County U19 squad, playing five games, together with two second eleven outings, in what Ben says was a frustrating time although he remembers it ultimately as good experience saying “Unfortunately I developed an ankle injury which affected my availability and when, somehow, in the middle of the 2018 season Cheshire came calling, I took the opportunity for which I am very grateful, and played with them for two seasons”.

Alongside all this domestic cricket activity, Ben continued his cricket development with three winters in Australia, in year one with the Stephen Parry Australian Cricket academy, accompanied by three friends from Ormskirk Cricket Club, including Tom Hartley. Ben considers the next two winters, playing first grade cricket for Macquarie University Cricket Club in Sydney and then particularly his final year playing for Parramatta in the New South Wales Premier League, as the most crucial and significant period in his self-determined career so far.

 “Looking back, I think everything I had done at club level and then playing a longer format and bowling more overs with Lancashire and Cheshire had prepared me for the challenge in Australia. It was a brilliant experience” said the young man who finished the season as Parramatta’s leading wicket taker with 54 wickets.

Ben returned home and as published on the Derbyshire website “The 21-year-old joined Derbyshire on a rookie contract for the 2020 season, with the club acting quickly to secure the paceman’s services after monitoring his progress throughout the winter”.

In the first Covid-hit season he joined Derbyshire for pre-season training at Repton and made his first class debut in August 2020 at Trent Bridge where serendipity gloriously struck. Opening the batting for Nottinghamshire was Haseeb Hameed. “I remember that Luis Reece got him out after he had got a fifty. It was great to see him again”.

2021 has been a stellar season for Ben, with 40 first class wickets earning him the accolade from Wisden and a contract with his County. Ben’s pathway has taken him in the right direction so far, with good advice and strong support. Who knows where it will take him next?





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