Warrnambool and District Cricket Association players - Mark Murphy, Alastair Templeton, Hank Schlaghecke and Sam Younghusband - are experiencing English cricket en masse

TAKING A LEAP: Mark Murphy has committed to playing cricket in England through the Australian winter, joining a growing club of Warrnambool players crossing the world.
TAKING A LEAP: Mark Murphy has committed to playing cricket in England through the Australian winter, joining a growing club of Warrnambool players crossing the world.

MARK Murphy felt the clock ticking.

The Brierly-Christ Church skipper always dreamed of venturing to England, the mother country, to ply his cricketing trade. 

But he’d put it off. Season after season, year after year. 

Until words of encouragement from his partner, Jordyn Billings, seeped through and hit home.

“I had a big group of people encouraging me to do it. My partner was the biggest instigator, maybe because she wanted to get rid of me,” Murphy jokes.

“She was a fantastic help for me. She just said ‘right, you’re doing it this year’ and you need those people around you to support you when you make a call.

“I remember it was something my brother, Nathan, always wanted to do but never got to. So I wanted to take the chance.”

Murphy, 25, couldn’t miss an opportunity to put his aggressive batting style to the test in the bowler-friendly English climate in the prime of his career.

He’s one of four Warrnambool and District Cricket Association players set to make the 16,893-kilometre trek at the close of the Australian summer.

West Warrnambool batsmen Alastair Templeton and Sam Younghusband are searching for English clubs while Woodford quick Hank Schlaghecke is venturing to Mobberley, the club that housed his skipper, Nick Butters, in 2017.

Russells Creek skipper Cam Williams moved to Leeds, in England’s north, in 2012, while former Nestles captain Kyle Humphrys also spent time at a British club.

Murphy is yet to sew up a club, but is in talks with several potential suitors across Britain.

“I think it’ll be a little different to cricket (in Warrnambool). I’ve heard the pitches and outfields are fairly nice,” he said.

“Culture is probably the big thing I’m excited for, because there’ll be plenty of things – it could be things like drills – I’ll pick up and bring back to my home club. 

“I’m looking forward to doing everything I can for the club I land with. I know they’re often looking for batters so I’ll go over and try to make as many runs as I can.”

Immigration laws specify foreigners must travel on a Youth Mobility Visa, which allows Australians to spend up to two years in Britain.

However, would-be travellers must be aged between 18 and 30 to qualify for the travel document.

While cricket takes precedence for many Warrnambool players, work can also be a drawcard.

Alastair Templeton, a casual relief teacher, plans to scout England’s southern counties in pursuit of work opportunities.

The Standard understands Sam Younghusband, 18, is also determined to find a club around London or in the south.

Templeton, a second-year captain at West Warrnambool, will travel with his partner, who is also a qualified teacher.

“When I finished uni, that was when I started to think about it. Once I got that out of the way, I started to think about it properly because it would’ve been a bit hard while I was studying,” he said.

“With casual teaching, it’s easy because you can work to save a bit, but if you want to take a day to take off somewhere you can.

“If you hesitate for too long, you’ll land a good job or something else will come up that makes playing cricket overseas hard to do.”

West Warrnambool’s English links are extensive.

They’ve welcomed British imports consecutively over the past four seasons – with Karl Turner, Andrew Scott, Jack Mills and now Jack Sunderland all donning Panthers’ colours.

Top-order batsman Ben Threlfall also travelled to the United Kingdom in 2016 for a summer, while brother and former Panther Michael Threlfall calls the island home.

Templeton revealed he’d opened West Warrnambool’s contact book while researching the country.

“I’ve touched based with all of them, and will continue to to ask about the standard (of cricket), living areas, transport, nightlife – everything,” he said.

“Once you start talking about your own country, everything sounds pretty good.

“If people were coming here, we’d talk about how great Warrnambool is.

“That local knowledge helps – because online, everything looks good.

“I’ll keep doing that when I’m narrowing it down to the last couple of clubs. 

“It can be something even as simple as the weather, because that’s a massive factor over there. You don’t want to go somewhere it’s going to get rained off every second week.”

The Koroit footballer expects “slower” pitches with an emphasis on swing bowling to be the toughest test of his trip.

“With the balls they use, the seam is a lot higher. From what I can gather there’s a lot of (off-spinners) over there and they work well with the pitches being slower,” Templeton said.

“The grounds are generally smaller, so you’re going to get more value for shots than you’d get at some of the grounds around here.

“There’s probably more value for shots but the wicket is a little bit harder to play, so it levels out a lot.

“I’ve heard you can play a lot older as a bowler, compared to here.

“If you’re a fast bowler, and you lose your pace, there’s not as much natural variation around here.

“But over there, I think it can be the slower, the harder if the ball is moving around and making it tough.”