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Martin Bicknell

'Cricketers who say they don't suffer from nerves are lying'

Ten years between Tests? Martin Bicknell knows the feeling

Interview by Jack Wilson

November 16, 2013

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Martin Bicknell celebrates the wicket of Mark Boucher, England v South Africa, 5th Test, September 8, 2003
Martin Bicknell: a shock recall against South Africa in 2003 © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Martin Bicknell
Teams: England | Surrey

First experience of cricket
I played every day with my brother Darren, growing up. We were always knocking about somewhere, often down at our club, Normandy CC. He was the older one, so I was generally bowling at him, but we were both allrounders. Up until he was 16 he was opening the bowling for Surrey's age-group side and batting up the order. I batted at four and bowled. That was how I got into the game.

First case of nerves
I've always been nervous. When I was younger it was worse than when you grow up. You feel quite small, and different environments are intimidating when you're young. But any cricketers who tell you they don't suffer from nerves are lying. Once you settle down and bowl a few balls, it's fine, you relax a bit, but before then it's hard and you do have to calm yourself.

First silverware with Surrey
Back in 1996 we won the Sunday League title at Glamorgan, which was magnificent. It had been ten years in the making for me, really. As a side we'd been getting better and better. That particular year we played some really, really strong and impressive cricket and it was the result of everything coming together. Winning in Cardiff was nice too. It's a good place to go out and celebrate.

First Test match
I played my first Test against Australia at Headingley in 1993. I'd been in the squad and on a tour before in 1991, so it wasn't a massive culture shock when I made by debut. I'd been bowling really well for Surrey and started off that season taking a few wickets. I felt like it was my time. It was a great feeling being selected and it was what I'd dreamed about growing up. The game didn't really go to plan, though. We spent the best part of three days in the field and lost by an innings. I played another Test but it was ten years until I got called up again. I'd been player of the year for Surrey for something like seven years in a row and I thought I was done. Then I got a call out of the blue. A girl from Radio 5 Live rang me and congratulated me and I didn't know what she was talking about!

First first-class century
It came against Kent in Canterbury in 2001 and it was quite bizarre. I made 78 in the first innings after coming in when we were in trouble and I was thinking "this is it". Then I got out to Andrew Symonds. I thought that was my chance gone. Then in the second innings we were 40-odd for 6 and in real trouble again. I went out there and attacked, played my shots and managed to end up on 110 not out. I'd never really worked on my batting but I devised a technique that worked well for me. I used to enjoy it but I didn't practise much in the nets. I found it was like being in a coconut shy and my batting suffered for five or six years.

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