THIS time of year can be a tough one for PE teachers and their pupils. Cross country running with mud up to the knees, freezing hands on the rugby, hockey and football pitch, the list of reasons to avoid outside exercise in the winter months is a lengthy one.
Not that Alex Thomson has to worry. Warwickshire’s resident qualified teacher decided to give professional cricket one last shot after graduating from Cardiff University in 2017.
And after signing a new deal this winter, which keeps him at Edgbaston until the end of 2020, and last week returning from an ECB spin bowling camp in New Zealand under the watchful eye of Jeetan Patel, his county skipper, it’s a decision that is already paying dividends.
Thomson made his T20 bow for the Bears in 2018 – after playing two County Championship matches the previous season – and was named Warwickshire Second XI’s player of the year.
Little wonder he has little reason to regret his decision to turn his back on teaching. For the time being at least.
“The camp was a really, really good experience,” he tells TCP. “I was out there with Andrew Salter and Jeets was effectively coaching us while he was with the Wellington Firebirds.
“It’s definitely something slightly more appealing than teaching at this time of year! Teaching is something that I’ll be looking to return to further down the line, I just want to make the most of the cricket right now.
“I did my placement – my 120 days placement – and didn’t get around to applying for any jobs as I came straight into the Warwick-shire set-up.
“Last season was my first full one as a pro and was thoroughly enjoyable. It had its ups and downs and plenty of challenges along the way but it was something that I really enjoyed.”
Despite first coming to prominence playing Minor Counties for Staffordshire, he is, at 25, a relative late comer to professional sport.
But as he prepares for Warwickshire’s pre-season training camp in Abu Dhabi, the hunger that has taken him this far could take him a whole lot further, too.
“I haven’t had any second thoughts,” he says. “I said I would give myself until I was 25 years old and if it hadn’t happened by then, then I couldn’t say it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
“My parents had driven me up and down the country and have been hugely supportive of everything I’ve done cricket-wise.
“They understood my decision (to take a chance with Warwickshire) and gave me all the backing I needed. I was probably looking down the route of going to Australia to develop my game before coming back here and giving it one last crack at making a name for myself at a county somewhere.
“I was just very fortunate that I was in the right place at the right time when I finished my PGCE and I managed to string a few good performances together which stood me in good stead.
“A few players have taken a different route into professional cricketer. For me, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that’s too good to miss.”
The cross-country mud fest can wait.
RICHARD EDWARDS / Photo: Getty Images