A PLAYER from New Zealand in English club cricket may usually be considered an overseas player.
But that is not the case at Burghill and Tillington Cricket Club.
Vice-captain Alex Hedges featured for Burghill as they beat Wormelow in the Worcestershire County League Second Division this weekend.
Hedges first arrived at Burghill as their overseas player but has settled here and now works in Herefordshire having married a woman from the county.
Hedges came to this country when he replied to an advert that Burghill placed on a website dedicated to overseas players and he was offered a chance to play.
He said: “We had a few exchanges of emails and they invited me to come over and play.”
Hedges has now been given an indefinite leave to remain and lives in Hereford with his wife.
Burghill were relegated last season and Hedges did not play as he was falling out of love with the game.
He said: “I didn’t enjoy my previous season and last season felt like I was missing out, I’m enjoying it more than I was two years ago.
“The biggest disappointment about the relegation was that it was part of our own doing, if we had been a bit smarter in a few games we would have been ok, hopefully we’ve learned from that.”
Hedges hopes that he can help Burghill to a promotion at the first time of asking following their relegation to Division Two and has set aside any personal goals to achieve this.
He said: “I don’t really have any goals, I just want to contribute; if we win that’ll be fine.
“We’ve got a young team - I hope to pass on my experience to those guys.”
Hedges also said he is hopeful they can not only go up, but overturn Bewdley’s early season lead and win the title.
He said: “We’ve started off ok actually, we’re second in the league so we’re doing alright - it’s a good team effort.
“We play Bewdley in a couple of weeks and we’re hoping to peg them back then.
“We missed out in the first game against them.”
Despite taking the decision to settle here, he still believes that overseas players are important to raise the standards in the game.
He said: “Overseas players really need to come in and give back to the clubs they come to and they can pass their experience on.
“The ones who come in and give nothing back – that’s not right.
“Jamie Banfield has stuck around for another season for Wormelow and he gives a lot to that club.”
He also thinks the standard of club cricket is a little higher in New Zealand mostly due to the participation at that level by professional cricketers.
He said: “I think in New Zealand we’ve got fewer players playing but more professionals play club cricket.
“The facilities are probably a bit better in New Zealand with regards to pitch preparation.”
Burghill captain Owen Morgan is pleased to have Hedges back this season.
He said: “It's brilliant to have him back in the team, we’re a young side and he gives us a lot of experience in the field.”
He also said overseas players are important to help raise the standard at this level.