The spinning all-rounder has gone down under to spend six weeks on the ECB spin-bowling programme with Bears captain Jeetan Patel.
The joy from a surprise Christmas present has usually started to fade by mid-February but Alex Thomson is still making the most of the one that landed his way three days before the big day last year.
As Christmas approached, Warwickshire spin-bowling all-rounder Thomson was preparing for the festivities in the expectation that then he would be back at Edgbaston for the rest of the winter in the indoor centre and gym.
I’m really grateful for the opportunity. It’s great just to see the different ways that people operate and soak up all the knowledge and ideas.Alex Thomson
But then out of a blue came a call inviting him to travel to New Zealand to spend six weeks on the ECB spin-bowling programme, based in Wellington and being mentored by a chap who knows a bit about spin-bowling – Bears captain Jeetan Patel.
Thomson was delighted to accept and, now a month into his stay down under, reports that the trip has fully lived up to expectations as a fantastic learning curve.
“I got the call totally unexpectedly on December 22nd and it was a wonderful Christmas present,” said the 25-year-old. “There are two of us out here on the programme, Glamorgan’s Andrew Salter and myself, being mentored by Jeetan and it’s been awesome.
“From a bowling perspective it is ideal to be bowling outdoors as early as possible, so for me to be doing that in such great facilities is brilliant. I am just working hard and loving working with Jeets and picking his brains as much as I can.
“Andrew and I have trained with Wellington Firebirds, mainly with the white ball because they have just come to the end of their T20 season. But I have also been allocated to a club, Petone Riverside, so have got some games in and done okay. I took a five-for on debut in a one-day game and scored a century in one of the two-day games.
“It’s my first time playing cricket abroad and I’m really grateful for the opportunity. It’s great just to see the different ways that people operate and soak up all the knowledge and ideas.”
Thomson will return to England next week to link back up with a Warwickshire squad in which he could have a significant first-team role this year. The departures of Josh Poysden and Sunny Singh has left the Staffordshire man as second spinner to Patel and his strong performances with bat and ball for the 2nd XI last season had him knocking hard in the first-team door.
“Every player has aspirations to play first-team cricket and I’m no different,” he said. “I would love to play for the first team next season and contribute to success for Warwickshire, but it is performances that earn your place so I have just got to keep working hard to try to deliver those.”