Sport / Cricket

Guernsey duo on a good wicket in Brunswick 

Young cricketers will take part in an exchange program to gain more experience

Ben Ferbrache (left) and Charlie Clapham acquaint themselves with Gillon Oval in Brunswick.

Mark Phillips
Friday, October 14, 2022

BRUNSWICK Cricket Club has formed a new relationship with the English Channel island of Guernsey which will see young players from both areas swapping places to gain more experience of conditions on the other side of the world. 

The first beneficiaries of the exchange program are veteran Guernsey international Ben Ferbrache and promising youngster Charlie Clapham, who arrived in Melbourne at the start of October. 

Ferbrache, 34, is a right hand upper order batter and the development manager of Guernsey Cricket and will be working alongside Brunswick’s men’s coach, Karl Mayne, until Christmas. 

Clapham, a tall right hand middle order batter, is the captain of Guernsey’s under-19 team and one of the island’s best young cricketers. He is spending part of his gap year before starting university playing cricket at Brunswick. 

Brunswick and Guernsey could hardly be more different. Guernsey, the second largest of the channel islands, is closer to France than England and has a population of just 63,000 across an area of 65 square kilometres. 

Cricket is the most popular summer sport on Guernsey, with about 30 sides spread across three divisions. Only T20 and 50 over one day cricket are played there, so players like Clapham have had no experience of playing in whites with a red ball. 

Guernsey has been an associate member of the International Cricket Council since 2008 and is currently ranked 38th in the world. Its national team plays in the ICC’s European League against the likes of arch-rivals Jersey, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark and Italy. 

Ferbrache, whose job at Guernsey Cricket involves identifying and developing the island’s most talented youngsters, said the relationship with Brunswick evolved from a plan to provide players like Clapham with exposure to different conditions and a higher standard of cricket, including two-day matches. 

“Our thinking was sort of like, how can we improve our cricketers when we spend the winter in a sports hall? So getting out here is a great opportunity, not only just for the cricket, but just to experience the rest of the world as well.” 

Added Clapham: “At home, you know everyone you play every week kind of thing, and that obviously won’t be the case here.

“It’s pretty cool, to be fair because coming from Guernsey you don’t really get many opportunities like this.” 

Charlie Clapham lining up for a shot in the nets

Charlie Clapham at work in the nets.

Ferbrache researched a number of clubs around Australia, eventually approaching Brunswick because of its set up and the size of the club, which is one of the largest in Victoria with seven senior men’s and one senior women’s teams, and about 150 junior players. 

Discussions began in earnest about three months ago and the new relationship was managed at Brunswick’s end by the club’s treasurer and chairman of selectors, Brenton Allan. 

“We had two or three Zoom calls with Ben and tried to understand what their idea was with the proposal, which was to allow their younger players to pay overseas because in Guernsey it’s quite limited playing against the same guys every week,” he said. 

The Guernsey cricketers paid their own air fares, but Brunswick is subsidising Ferbrache and Clapham’s accommodation in Melbourne. 

Clapham was chosen as one of the most promising young batsman on the island, and Ferbrache is already developing a program beginning at under-11s to identify future prospects. 

“We look at him as a Guernsey [international] player for the future,” said Ferbrache. 

“He’s been the captain for every age group as long as he’s played, and quite mature, I’d say. He will definitely develop because he’s going face different bowlers while in Guernsey you get the same bowlers.” 

Karl Mayne, Brunswick’s coach, said the arrangement would also benefit Brunswick’s more promising younger players who travel to Guernsey. Brunswick has in the past had an informal arrangement with Calmore Cricket Club in Hampshire, and Mayne himself played in the north of England earlier in his career and said it helped him improve. 

“A large part of our interest was getting Ben’s coaching expertise and knowledge that he’s got, and then for the younger guys like Charlie and our younger players, providing that opportunity to develop your game in different conditions and environments. 

“I think the more you play against different players and in different conditions you develop different aspects of your game and this will accelerate that.” 

For Clapham, the season in Australia will be his first lengthy period of time away from home, but Ferbrache spent a season playing club cricket in Sydney about a decade ago, and his wife is originally from Perth. 

Both players are looking forward to putting on the pads for Brunswick, although Ferbrache is currently recovering from a hernia operation but hopes to be back on the playing field within weeks.  

They are also excited about the opportunity to watch the very highest standards of cricket in Australia, including the Twenty-20 World Cup, which begins this Sunday in Geelong and includes a blockbuster between Pakistan and India at the MCG on October 23.