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Coaching rekindles ex-state paceman Will Carr’s passion for cricket

Many thanks to the Leader News Groups Paul Amy for allowing the club to share this story on the clubs website. We as the Swans Family need to make sure that we support our local papers as they are the ones who tell our stories. Anyway, on to the story….

Frustrated by the injuries that restricted his first-class career, Will Carr walked away from cricket. But a coaching stint at his junior club Berwick has led him back to Premier Cricket.

Paul Amy, Cranbourne Leader

It’s a crisp but sunny Monday morning at Berwick Cricket Club and Will Carr is feeling at home as he looks over the ground.

He knows every part of it.

It’s where he started his cricket.

It’s where he played in First XI flags, leading him to declare Berwick to be “premiership town’’.

It’s where he left as a young paceman to pursue Premier Cricket and eventually rise to the Victorian team.

And it was where he returned years later as a coach to rekindle his passion for the game after a long absence from it.

It has set Carr up for the next phase of his cricket journey, back in Premier Cricket, as an assistant coach to Brian Keogh at Casey South Melbourne.

In 2021-22 he’ll take over from Keogh in a succession plan Collingwood supporter Carr suggests will be far smoother than the Mick Malthouse-Nathan Buckley arrangement.

Carr had a fine playing career and was good enough to play for Victoria. In six Shield matches he collected 25 wickets at 20.88 and knocked over some fine batsmen.But stress fractures that first surfaced when he was coming through with the Wickers denied him a longer spell in first-class ranks.

After a comeback at St Kilda, he was done with Premier Cricket by 2007-08, 25 matches for the Saints going with his 61 at Dandenong. They brought him 167 scalps at 22.89.

From the Saints Carr returned to Berwick “but the body started to pack it up again’’.

After that he stayed away from cricket for a few years.

“Yeah, I became disheartened with it,’’ Carr, 44, said.

“Going from playing as well as I was playing and getting injured and getting injured again, I got frustrated.

“You sort of go from dismissing some of the best players in the country to, three or four years later, struggling to recapture it … it was a combination of physical challenges and mental challenges to deal with that. I lost some desire, and at the same time some of my business interests were going pretty well, so I decided to focus on that. Yeah, I did walk away from the game completely for a few years. Fell out of love with the game, to be honest.’’

Berwick brought him back.

Four years ago club great Gavan Wills was president and asked him to do some part-time bowling coaching for a few weeks in the pre-season.

He realised how much he’d missed it.

“Really enjoyed it, just getting in amongst it again and being around some of the guys I knew and had played with,’’ he said. “And ‘Pilo’ (Nathan Pilon) was at the club then and I’d played against him. It was only a four to six-week commitment but I found myself coming back during the season, just of my own accord, helping out. At that stage Berwick didn’t have a head coach as such. I threw my hat into the ring the following year and said if they were interested in having a stand-alone coach I’d be happy to have that discussion.’’

Carr rarely bowled many tempters. The Wicks seized on it.

He coached Berwick for three years, including to the premiership when last season was cut short a week by COVID-19.

In doing so, Carr said he found he enjoyed helping players reach their potential, on and off the ground.

“It’s not just with their cricket, but some of their life challenges as well,’’ he said.

“You find it’s not cricket exclusive. I try to look just beyond the player and get to know the person. If you get to know the person you’ve got a better chance of coaching them.’’

Last season he combined his role at Berwick with a part-time position as a bowling coach at Casey South Melbourne.

Three months ago he stood down from Berwick to become Keogh’s understudy with the Swans. In 12 months he’ll be his successor.

Carr has great respect for Keogh and would have been happy to work under him for longer.

He’s impressed that Casey South Melbourne has surrounded Keogh with a group of assistants, including Bart Perera, former Sri Lankan Test batsman Thilan Samaraweera and ex-state player Pilon. The Swans’ former Test fast bowler Damien Fleming will also serve as a high performance consultant.

When Carr joined the club last year he was surprised at the coaching set-up.

“What hadn’t seemed to have evolved since my earlier time in Premier Cricket was the coaching support,’’ he said.

“When I was at Dandenong there was ‘Bushy’ McArdle as coach and he had one assistant and maybe a couple of others to help out.

“That doesn’t seem to have changed that much. I can’t speak for every club but from what I can see it’s still a head coach and an assistant coach. The game’s evolved – even at a local level it’s become more professional – and if you’ve got a list of 50, 60 blokes, how do you coach? So I think now the structure is right for not only ‘BK’, but the players and the club. You hear lots of stories about kids going to Premier Cricket and coming back worse players, or even giving up the game completely, because there’s just not the support structure there. This is where Shaun Petrie (Swans president) has been good. He understands the need to get that support in place.’’

Carr even played a few games last season. But going forward he’ll leave the bowling to Nathan Lambden and co.

The Swans are among the clubs in the running to recruit Ringwood paceman Michael Topp and have regained medium-pacer Leigh Diston.

Adding more of a local flavour, young left-arm spinner Isaiah Jassal will also cross to Casey South Melbourne from Berwick, “premiership town’’ and home to Will Carr.

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