In the week of James Whitaker's retirement, is there life after cricket?
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The Independent Online


I consider myself very lucky because I had the opportunity to go to Durham University when I retired through injury at the end of 1996. I had some qualifications. It really is so important to maximise your educational potential because sport can be a precarious business. I studied business and marketing and have worked my way to being an account manager for Thomson Financial Services. Having played sport certainly helps once you have a job but not like the old days when it was enough to get you a job.



It certainly helps having a bit of a name and I had teaching qualifications as a youngster as a bit of back-up. I teach PE, geography, cricket and hockey at Millfield School but if I hadn't done this I have no idea what I'd have done. Cricketers often struggle because as a professional you have everything laid on a plate: salary, hotel, meal money - when it all ends they have no experience of the outside world. I think maybe the counties should help players more in training and awareness of life after cricket.



Three years before I retired in 1988 my father and I had set up Needham and Needham Ltd, an events organising company. With my sport contacts and my love of racing we branched out into hospitality, corporate golf days and the like - so now the Cheltenham Festival is our biggest thing. Before that I'd coached a couple of winters, bit of PR. I even spent a winter gambling. It is hard and most have no idea what to do, but you need to find a niche you enjoy and work hard to make it a success.



I wasn't really qualified when I was released in 1989 so I spent the next summer working as a freelance landscape gardener to prove to myself that I could survive but it was never more than a stop-gap. Then the club asked me to coach the kids in the schools and since then I've become head of youth development and coach to the 2nd XI. Somerset cricket has been my life and I'm pleased still to be involved. I like coaching so it is a great job for me. We can't all become teachers or journalists.



When I was released I didn't know what to do and for the last couple of years I've done part-time jobs to keep going. I am a professional for Hertfordshire in the Minor Counties so in a way I've stayed involved but after 15 years it is difficult to know what you want to do when your life has revolved around sport. This year I've applied to firms in marketing sport and hospitality because it is better that I become involved in something I have knowledge of and it is something that I will enjoy and be good at.



When I retired I went straight into school insurance broking working for another former Hampshire captain, Colin Ingleby-McKenzie. From there I joined Sporting Index in 1992 as spread betting evolved from a bit of fun to a proper form of gambling. I'm in charge of the marketing and this has suited me as I have always loved a bet and it has kept me involved in sport. There was no training for life after cricket and the majority never worried about what they were going to do.