Professional cricket is a tough and competitive career. Only a few talented individuals become professionals and fewer still make it as a top international player.
Playing cricket on the county circuit is an arduous job, with an unrelenting schedule and few rest days. There are a number of different types of tournaments, ranging from the traditional county championship league, where each match is played over three or four days, to one-day competitions.
Major county games, one-day cricket and international matches attract large crowds, but players must get used to playing in virtually empty grounds too.
As well as playing in matches, cricketers spend a lot of time practicing their batting, bowling and fielding. This may be carried out with coaches at their own county grounds, or they may be selected to attend special England training academies.
A lot of emphasis is also placed on fitness, and players will often have their own training and dietary regimes to follow.
County cricket normally offers full-time employment from April to October, and some players have a second occupation outside cricket for the rest of the year.
Some players may be offered winter work overseas as players and/or coaches. The Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) can supply further details.
Leading players may also have their own agent.
Most of the season is spent in cricket grounds, either on the pitch or in the pavilion. Bad weather can lead to long hours waiting for play to start.
Although there are indoor training centres, cricketers spend much of their time outdoors practicing in the nets and at training sessions. They also do fitness work in the gym and swimming pool.
Matches take place on all days of the week, including weekends and bank holidays. Some games are played at night under floodlights.
A lot of time is spent traveling to and from matches and players will spend periods away from home. Some overseas travel may be necessary, whether on tour for a county side, or playing international matches.
Cricketers taken on straight from school or university may earn between £6,000 and £15,000.
There are around 400 professional cricketers in the UK, employed by the 18 first class counties in England and Wales.
There is also an England national side, made up of a small group of players who have central contracts with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). As the international calendar continues to grow, these players spend most of their time playing or training for England, making only occasional appearances for their counties.
Minor counties cricket, Scottish and local county leagues also offer some opportunities for part-time professionals, who may have a second income from coaching.
The ECB has a policy of developing the most talented players 'from the playground to Test arena'.
The main route into the game is through schools and club cricket, representative cricket for county age-group squads and, finally, county cricket. The most talented young cricketers will be spotted by scouts and other people linked to the game at an early age.
Although no academic qualifications are needed, many players have some qualifications or skills outside of cricket which they can use if their career ends early through injury and when they retire.
Each county selects 12 players a year to join its own County Academy, where young players receive individual and specialist coaching through personally tailored programme's that fit in around their education.
The University Centre of Excellence (UCCE) is a scheme run by the ECB which aims to ensure that the best young cricketers, both male and female, are encouraged to go into higher education. It provides opportunities for young players to develop their cricket while remaining in higher education at one of 13 academic institutions around the UK. Further details are available from the ECB.
Players from Scotland and Northern Ireland should contact the European Cricket Council for details about training camps.
Professional players are constantly being coached to improve their play and iron out flaws in their techniques. Each county has specialists who concentrate on coaching in batting and bowling, and all players are expected to work at improving their fielding.
The ECB's National Cricket Centre is based at Loughborough University and is designed to develop the most talented cricketers for all England's squads - men, women, disabled people and for different age groups. Current professionals are selected to attend by a national panel.
The centre incorporates technical, tactical, mental, physical and lifestyle development through a range of specifically tailored activities over a six-month period. This culminates in a six-week overseas tour which introduces players to different playing conditions and cultures within an intense match programme.
The Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) may also be available. It provides a structured national training and development route leading to an NVQ Level 3 in Achieving Excellence in Sports Performance, while also addressing issues such as working with others, career management, and health and safety.
The Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) provides funding for players to follow a vocational training course.
Most players receive advice on how to deal with the media and conduct interviews.
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A cricketer should:
Professional cricketers have only short careers and must prepare for life when their sporting days are over. It is normal to retire as a player between the ages of 35 and 40. Some professional cricketers move into coaching at clubs and schools, and there may also be openings in coaching within local authorities. The ECB has recently launched a new series of coaching awards.
However, there are only a limited number of opportunities to coach cricket, so it is important to develop work contacts outside the sport. Many cricketers move into areas such as journalism, sports management, teaching and sports centre management.
The ECB and PCA employ education advisors under the Performance Lifestyle Programme, which offers players advice and guidance on the educational and career options open to them during their career and once they have finished playing.
The PCA also runs the Placement and Learning Access Network (PLAN) that helps professional cricketers find placements with local businesses during the closed season, helping them develop work-related skills that they can use when they leave professional cricket.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB),
Lord's Cricket Ground, London NW8 8QZ
Tel: 020 7432 1200
European Cricket Council
Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA),
5 Utopia Village, 7 Chalcot Road,
Primrose Hill, London NW1 8LH
Tel: 020 7544 8668
SkillsActive, Castlewood House,
77-91 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1PX
Tel: 020 7632 2000
UK Sport, 40 Bernard Street,
London WC1N 1ST
Tel: 020 7211 5100
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.