FORMER Exmouth cricketer Liam Cook is has been getting stuck into an exciting new job coaching the Brazilian ladies cricket squad.
Cook, who is 31, has just returned from working with the national squad in Poços De Caldas, a regional capital city roughly 300 miles south west of Rio de Janeiro. He flew out to Brazil last month and got home just in time.
“Luckily my flight wasn’t cancelled, but pretty much every other flight out of São Paulo was,” said Cook.
Home for Cook these days is Bexley in Kent where he moved around five years ago.
Cook, whose dad Martin is the social media specialist as Exmouth Town FC, first worked with the Brazilian ladies last year when they were in the UK for a tournament.
“During the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup the Brazilian Criiio team (street cricket) came over to compete in a tournament based in Trafalgar Square,” said Cook.
“The aim of the tournament was to showcase different types of cricket from around the world with teams such as India, Brazil, Rwanda and Germany coming to compete.
“The president of Cricket Brazil, Matt Featherstone, has links to my current cricket club, which is Bexley CC, Kent and while the Brazilians were in England, I spent a bit of time coaching them.
“We continued the relationship after they left and, when the Brazilian women’s team were given central contracts, Matt [Featherstone], got in contact and asked if I would be interested in coming over to spend some time working with them? Things went from there.”
Cook is used to working in professional environment with top-class facilities as he is part of Kent’s county age-group coaching staff.
“I also run my own cricket coaching company called TOP Cricket Academy,” said Cook.
Although Brazil is not a frontline cricket-playing national, Cook was delighted with the facilities waiting for him in Poços De Caldas.
“Cricket Brazil, Cricket Poços and the local government in Poços De Caldas have worked very hard to fund cricket in the local area.
“They have a brand-new, High-Performance Centre for women with four nets and an area set aside for fielding practise.
“They are planning to build two indoor lanes at the High-Performance Centre. They also have a second outdoor training facility at the local sports club.
“The women have access to strength and conditioning coaches, sports psychologists and it is a really professional set up.
“The main ground in Poços is a little different to what I’m used to. It is located next to a small regional airport in a local park it isn’t Lords, but it is in a picturesque setting and they take pride in its upkeep and have plans to improve it.”
Cook hopes to jet back out to Brazil in August to prepare his squad for the South American Championship in Rio.
“The women were preparing for a T20 series against Argentina, but that has been called off due to the Covid-19 crisis,” said Cook.
“When I return in August I am looking forward to the tournament as it is being held Rio, which will no doubt mean in any time off I will get the opportunity to take in things like Christ the Redeemer statue and the Copacabana.”
Cook has already taken in some of the sights and sounds of Brazil, one of which he did not expect so far away from the UK.
“I was sitting outside a coffee shop in the middle of the city centre when across the road I saw a young lad walking down the street wearing a Somerset shirt with ‘C Overton’ on the back,” said Cook.
“As you can imagine, I was amazed to see a Somerset shirt in Brazil, especially with a fellow Devonian on the back!”
Liam Cook was a youth player at Exmouth who made his league debut for the club in 2002, often playing alongside dad Martin. He appeared more than 50 times and would have appeared more often without a three-year break from 2006-08.
Cook’s stint at Exmouth was followed by a summer (2011) at Clyst St George and two seasons (2012-13) with Woodbury. He embarked on his coaching career by completing the level two course with the DCB coach education team at the Devon Cricket Centre in Exeter.