David Nash lived and breathed cricket from a very young age. Touted as a future England star at 15, he eventually found the strains of life as a professional cricketer too great. But after the end of his 16-year career with Middlesex in 2009, he set out on a path that would lead to him building a multi-million-pound business. In the first of the extracts from his book Bails to Boardrooms, he tells of a classic wind-up on a famous team-mate and how an England U15 tour to South Africa opened his eyes to a wider world
As I’ve never driven, I was always in the passenger seat on the way home from games, keen to pass the time. I used to do a very good West Country accent and managed to reel in Nick Compton with it one day. Compo loved his cash and loved to have his massive ego stroked. So, I called him one day and pretended to be the Somerset director of cricket, Brian Rose. By the end of the call, I had Compo believing that Somerset were going to treble his wages on a five-year deal in one of the biggest transfers in cricketing history. He took the bait hook, line and sinker as he always did. Ironically, Compo ended up joining Somerset which was to be the catalyst for him living out his own dream of following in his grandfather Denis’s footsteps by playing for England.
I didn’t envy Nick as I saw day to day the pressure that the Compton name put on him. I guess my way of trying to help him (and others where I could) was to keep the day to day things light and bright. Although he had a great career, I wish that Compo could have enjoyed it more for what it was. Every day seemed a battle for him as it sometimes was for me and I tried as much as I could to keep things enjoyable to help him put our great game in perspective.
The most engaging, most interesting people I’ve met in my life are the ones who work hard. They care about what they do but don’t take themselves too seriously. Life’s there for living and, as they say, you’re a long time dead. On the rare occasion that I see a gravestone, I always notice that the sum parts of your life are a tiny dash between two dates. That’s a scary thought, but it’s always been a reminder for me that all of us are a pretty insignificant part of something much, much bigger. Realising that helps me not to take myself too seriously. Still, it also helps me put every day into perspective, something that I think isn’t true for everyone. Some people do take themselves way too seriously.
My middle name is Charles. It really ought to be Banter. It’s my secret weapon, my greatest friend, and the thing that helps me keep life light-hearted. In fact, it was the only thing that got me a gig during the now infamous Stanford T20 tournament in the Caribbean. The captain, Shaun Udal (Shaggy to his mates), asked me to come along solely to do two things: boost team morale and look after the fines that would be issued for all manner of misdemeanours. I certainly wasn’t getting a look-in with the gloves given that Ben Scott was, by then, the established wicketkeeper. What a great role I had on that trip; right up my street.
I’ve discovered that when you start to think about writing a book, you begin to reflect on all sorts of things. One of the key things I’ve thought about is the people who matter most to me and why. My grandad and his England schoolboy football caps played a big part in my young life. Showing them to my mates and reflecting on what he had achieved gave me the belief that perhaps one day, I, too, could be an elite sportsman. He died before I could get to know him well, but he’s definitely at the top of the list of those who I’ll buy a beer for in that bar in the sky that’s waiting for all of us. Nelson Mandela is not someone you’d expect me to name in this list, but he’s there. I first became aware of him on my England Under-15 tour to South Africa in 1992. That was a tour I’ll never forget. To play with the likes of [Andrew] Flintoff, [Alex] Tudor and [Gareth] Batty and be involved in a match-winning partnership with Freddie at Newlands was magical.
That tour was the first time that I’d had to think about the relationship between sport and the outside world, and the impression made by one man’s struggle against apartheid has stayed with me ever since. The underdog, the fighter, the great orator; the man Mandela was.
Tomorrow:I was mentally shot and the game that I had loved for years had done that.
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