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Where are they now: James Regan

Over the next few months we will be catching up with former Somerset players to see where their career took them after leaving the Club.

Today we catch up with former Somerset wicket keeper James Regan.

First of all, we asked James how he ended up at Somerset County Cricket Club.

“My journey was quite a unique one really,” he said. “Essentially Tony Davies (former Somerset Cricket Board Chairman) was a friend of the Chairman at the club where I was playing in Surrey. They hadn’t seen each other for over 30 years, and they bumped into each other at a school reunion. They got talking and the Chairman of my club brought Tony down to watch some cricket, because that’s what they used to do when they were younger.

“He watched me play, I think I was 15 at the time, and a few weeks later I had a call from Somerset asking if I’d be interested in a trial. I was playing age group cricket for Hampshire at the time and had recently taken up keeping. I decided I wanted to come on down and see what it was all about.

“I met with Greg Kennis and had a session with him. I didn’t hear a lot after that, other than that they were keen for me to play some Second XI cricket. I ended up playing a Second Team game at Bristol where Rob Woodman came steaming in at me, and then I played a game at Essex. After that I was offered a place on the Academy. That meant a big transition for me because I needed to find some accommodation. I was living two hours away, which meant that it was quite difficult to fulfil the two weeknights and Sunday cricket without moving down here.”

What was it like joining the Somerset Academy?

“It was a big culture shock for me,” he said. “I was a bit of a chubby kid and loved sweets and chocolate, but when you come on to an Academy you don’t focus solely on cricket, they focus on you as an individual. It was made clear very early on that schoolwork plus health and nutrition were very important. As a 15-year-old, these weren’t areas that I’d particularly thought about until then. All of a sudden, you’re getting all this really good information on how to fuel your body, the types of exercises that you need to be doing, the conditioning that you need to be doing as well as maintaining all your schoolwork. Jason Kerr made it very clear that if you didn’t do your schoolwork, you wouldn’t be playing cricket.”

James went on to make his Second XI debut at the age of just 15. How did it feel to make that step up at such a young age?

“It was strange playing for the Second XI at only 15,” he said. “I remember that my second game was at Chelmsford and because I was so young, I remember thinking that playing there was pretty special. That day we had the likes of Lewis Gregory in the side and Nick Compton played for us too. Tymal Mills bowled at me, which was an experience as a 15-year-old. He was still finding his radar a bit back then, but it was still pretty scary! When you’re young you don’t fully appreciate just how big something like that it is. As a teenager you think, quite naively, that it’s just another game of cricket. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous playing with all those guys though and I felt very grateful to be in their presence.”

Who had the biggest influence on your career at that point?

“A number of people had a big impact on me at that time, but Jason Kerr was a huge influence on me. He was always available for a conversation which was great for me because I was away from my home and he in many ways acted as a fatherly figure. He was there to talk about cricket, but also things away from cricket. Darren Vennes also had a big impact on me. Being a chubby kid, Daz soon educated me on how to train and to get myself into as good physical shape as possible. I also went on to form a good relationship with Paul Tweddle as we spent time working on batting and keeping. Those were the three who I leaned on the most.”

James made his First Class debut for Somerset against Cardiff MCCU in 2012. How big a leap was it from Second XI Cricket to First XI cricket?

“It’s a huge step and unless you’re given that chance to take that step you’ll never truly know how big it is,” he explained. “I got that taste against Cardiff and didn’t make the impact that I wanted to, but it felt amazing to be playing for Somerset. To say that you’ve played First Class cricket, whether that be one game or 1000 games, it’s an incredible achievement. It was an incredibly proud moment for me and one that I will hold with me forever.”

What was it like walking in to such a star-studded dressing room?

“Somerset has always been blessed, especially during my time, with a great squad ethic. There’s no real sense of hierarchy or of First XI and Second XI. The guys were all really welcoming when I was involved. The likes of Trescothick and Trego were always there to lend a hand if you needed it, whether that be technically or mentally.”

James also played for Somerset in a tour match against South Africa at the Cooper Associates County Ground that year.

“To be involved in that game really was the pinnacle of anything that I did in cricket,” he said. “Stepping on to the pitch with the likes of the players who were out there that day is something that I could only have dreamt of as a kid. That was as close to international cricket as I was ever going to get, but it was a great experience. It was the first time that I’d played in front of a crowd that big at such a lovely ground. Being on the pitch and mixing with the players in the dressing room after the match was incredible and they were all happy to have conversations with you. They really were a great group of guys.”

Although things didn’t work out as James had hoped, he still has happy memories of his time at the Club.

“I’m a strong believer in what is meant to be will be. I’ve got nothing but good memories about my time at Somerset. I can honestly say that for a few years I was lucky enough to live out my boyhood dream. I think I would have liked to have been thrown in at the deep end to see if I would have sunk or swam, but I’m forever grateful to everyone who gave me the opportunity. I have to thank Brian Rose for taking me on at the start; Andy Hurry for giving me my first chance and Matt Maynard for keeping me on. I owe a lot to a lot of people and although I would have loved for it to continue, I have nothing but great memories of the place.”

James now works just across the road at Cooper Associates. He outlined how his journey took him there.

“At the end of that year I had a choice to make about what I was going to do. I had commitments here in Taunton such as my girlfriend and bills to pay and things like that. I’d lost a little bit of love for cricket at this point and the sensible option seemed to be to go into a new career. In that respect once again, I was incredibly fortunate to have been given an opportunity by Lee Cooper at Cooper Associates.

“About four months before the end of that season I had a conversation with Carl Gazzard (former SCCC player and currently Senior Financial Consultant at Cooper Associates) and Lee about what it would involve. When you go straight from school into cricket, I don’t think you have a real understanding of what a full day’s work is like. I definitely know about that now. The environment at Cooper Associates is great and it’s one that encourages you to grow and evolve and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity that they’ve given me.

“I’m now a mortgage advisor and help people with insurance and income protection. I love it because every day is different. It also gives me the opportunity and flexibility to do things that I couldn’t do when I was playing cricket, like taking a holiday in May! A potential further progression would be to go into financial management with regards to pensions and inheritance tax planning.”

James also explained that he still plays the game.

“Throughout my time down here I’ve always played my cricket for Taunton St Andrews and I’ve enjoyed some great days there and made some life-long friends. This winter I’ve made a slight change because at the end of last season I was playing Minor Counties cricket for Wiltshire. That’s something that I want to continue doing again next year, but in order to do that I need to be playing in the top tier of cricket in the South West, so I’ve made the move to Clevedon. They’ve been extremely welcoming and supportive and I’m really looking forward to playing cricket again in 2020 because it’s still a big passion of mine.”

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