Ian Blackwell March 29, 2014

'I had a hard career, because a lot of my games were against Australia'

Ian Blackwell on his only Test, being dropped for his best mate, and playing under Duncan Fletcher

First time I got into cricket
It was purely because my dad was cricket-mad. He was playing for a club in Derbyshire called Wingerworth. They were not one of the best but it was a good social team. I used to go along and score for them. Then when I was seven or eight and they turned up with ten men, I would play the odd game. It went on from there, really. I moved to the best club in the area - Chesterfield - and I was there from the age of 13 up until I turned professional. My dad was a huge influence, taking me to indoor nets all over the place when I was growing up.

First experience of life in the England camp under Duncan Fletcher
A lot of people didn't get on with him, but I warmed to him. I enjoyed what he did, because he did things his own way. He was seen to have his favourites, people like Marcus Trescothick and Fred [Andrew Flintoff] were prime candidates. But he always gave me a chance and that was huge for me. I liked the way he did things, in that he was a forward-thinking coach who was always trying to test the grey areas. He wanted to stretch boundaries and made people think a bit more about their game.

First Test match
I had a couple of good warm-up games out in India before getting called up, which was a dream come true. Unfortunately it was my first and last Test. Monty [Panesar] and Alastair Cook were on debut too that day and it was a huge honour to play alongside them. Cookie has become one of the most successful England batsmen ever. Monty ended up bowling more overs than me in the first Test that series, and the conditions in Mohali for the second Test were seamer-friendly, so they only went for one spinner. I ended up being left out for one of my best mates in the game, Liam Plunkett. It was hard on me and I struggled to get back into the team after that, which was frustrating.

First one-day half-century
The 82 I scored against India was special. I like to look back at the times I did well, and that was one of them. It was a proud moment to raise my bat in what were tough conditions. I had a hard international career in that a lot of the games I played were against Australia, one of the game's great teams. I'm sure lots of people think I should have played for England a lot more, and a lot people think I played for England too much. Do I think I was worthy of playing for England? I'm not sure - it's up to other people to decide that. I was fortunate enough to bowl left-arm spin as well as bat. I didn't back myself to be good enough at either but I offered an option to do a bit of both, which helped me.

First bit of advice to young cricketers
It sounds a bit of a cliché but you've just got to enjoy it. It comes to a stage as a professional that you stop enjoying it because it's your job. Even in exhibition games it's hard, because people think you're just going to go out there and smack a load of sixes. In pro cricket you're getting paid, you have to perform and you're nervous. Depending on what type of character you are, it can find frailties in you. You have to remember why you got into the game during those times, and that is to enjoy it. That's a key thing I try to instil in the youngsters when I'm coaching.