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 second of our extracts from his book Bails to Boardrooms, he tells how he realised, in the middle of a match televised by Sky, that cricket was having a seriously bad effect on him.
Standing behind the stumps that day, I knew I was in trouble. Not the usual type of scrape I'd find myself in after a night out with the lads. This was trouble of a very different kind. A kind of whirring in your brain that means it's hard to separate the senses. A sense that the world is about to implode around you. I forgot that I was in the middle of a game.
Frightened, alone and unbelievably anxious, I heard the ball off the edge of the bat. The next thing I saw was the ball on the ground. I'd dropped Martin Love, Durham's Aussie overseas No 3, at a crucial stage of the game which was more crucially live on Sky. There was nowhere to hide.
Did I care that I'd dropped the catch? Not really. I cared about something much bigger in that moment. What everyone else thought about me. My parents, my mates, my brother, my missus, my kids and everyone involved in cricket, inside and outside of Middlesex.
I was mentally shot to pieces and the game that I had loved for years had done that. So much so that, in the next over, I feigned injury so that I didn't have to put myself through the torture of another ball in front of the TV cameras. The shame I felt walking off the pitch that day has never left me. It was also the day I finally had to admit that my cricketing days were numbered and that I was lying to myself and others. More importantly, it was the day that I was able to be honest with myself about the struggle that was to prove the biggest of my life – my mental health. Cricket had destroyed it and my journey since then is the story of battling those demons.
I was very average as a professional cricketer. A funny thing to say given my 16-year career, but it's true. As luck (and hard work) would have it, I turned out to be a much better businessman. That's why I wanted to write this book. Why is it that sport and business have so much in common? What was it about my career in cricket that gave me the skill and the will to create my successful business ventures? These are some of the questions I've asked myself during the last decade.
By the end of this book, I hope that you and I will have a few answers. People and businesses make the world go round: sport, politics, our company (of which much more later). Almost everything else that I've come across in my 40-plus years on Earth revolves around these two things.
Business people have always fascinated me. So have people who have achieved real success in businesses large and small. I like hearing the stories, making the contacts, and seeing the varied perspectives on life as an employer or employee. I love learning about new companies and new ways that people find to make pie and mash. That's cash to the non-private schoolers reading this.
I enjoy discovering ways to develop new ideas, and I love seeing them come to fruition. I'm pretty good at seeing things through from start to finish. Even in my cricketing days, with the bat, I was good at seeing us over the line to win matches and I loved it best of all when I had to dig us out of the shit. It's no different now in my business life.
Tomorrow: Ramps was lying in the bath in his full kit chuntering about what an arsehole I was
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