THERE’S a big, possibly life-changing, decision on the horizon for multi-talented sportsman Andrew Thomas, but he’s in absolutely no rush to make it.
Thomas is a Watford FC under-18 goalkeeper, whilst simultaneously on the books of Middlesex as a promising batsman and wicket-keeper.
At just 18 years old, Thomas has already finished at Merchant Taylors’ School – a year early after starting primary school ahead of time – with 2As and 2A*s at A Level and is weighing up his options.
A normal week for the teenager will see him at Watford five or six mornings, with three or four evenings spent at the indoor school with Middlesex.
And he’s determined to continue balancing the demands of two sports at a high level for as long as he capable of doing so.
“I started both sports at the same time, about eight years old, and got selected by Middlesex and Watford at the same time and all the way though I’ve juggled the two,” explained Thomas.
“I don’t see any issues – it’s a bridge I will cross but I have tried not to worry too much about it and enjoy playing both, so I am learning as much as I can.
“It’s difficult at times people want to know when I will pick and I say ‘not a clue’. It’s a big decision, I will have to make it but I am not going to complain. It’s an incredible position to be in.
“It’s definitely a love of the sport that makes me continue to juggle the two as I would not have continued if I didn’t love it. As long as I do love both, I will try and continue.”
Thomas admits that playing a summer and winter sport to such a high level does mean that time off is pretty few and far between.
The day after his final A Level exam, the majority of his friends were headed on holiday, while he had the first-day of pre-season at Watford.
And while many sportspeople struggle to maintain just one sport to such a standard, Thomas insists there’s lots of crossover between football and cricket, even if his coaches aren’t always impressed.
“My goalkeeping coach at Watford gets annoyed if I scoop a ball like cricket and in cricket I take catches with my top hand rather than two,” he added.
“But I feel comfortable using that technique from one sport and putting into the other, I don’t feel I will drop anything. I feel safe and it’s very natural.
“If I am using it in both sports I’m training twice and it improves me quickly. People tell me if you choose you’ll double the hours you can train and you will get a lot better.
“But I never get bored of training because I can chop and change. I go from one in the morning to another in the evening – it’s always challenging and it keeps the hunger going.”
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, February 10 2017
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