Keith Barker reflects on swapping sports before becoming a devastating bowler

In the end, Keith Barker never came out on top in either of the two sports he played professionally.

Instead, as he reflects on his status as a player in the 2022 County Championship, Hampshire’s veteran all-rounder can rest easy on being recognized as the best of the rest.

Internationally recognized at England’s age group level as a teenager footballer, he may have missed him, but over the past 15 seasons, his consistency on the domestic scene has seen him earn two We are on the cusp of a first class milestone. 8 times out of 5000.

Keith Barker is a key player for Hampshire CCC, but was also a former professional footballer

“I don’t think they were just looking for someone who was stable. They want X-Factor,” the 36-year-old said, explaining why his figures in cricket have led to international calls. I threw in the names of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood when I thought it wasn’t worth it.

Chatting sports mail Throughout his sporting life, which began as an aspiring striker at Blackburn Rovers, he reveals how the impact he experienced in football ignited a cricket journey that began in 2008.

His innate footballing prowess saw him appear for the England U-19s against Belgium in the 2004-05 season, when he was the Premier League U-18 champions.

But he was more of a solid performer than a prodigy, managed by Graeme Souness and Mark Hughes, trained with Champions League winners, and played with players like Gareth Bale, despite continuing until the age of 21. We played against each other, and Barker pinpoints the experience. As his sliding door moment, in a reserve team match at Aston Villa.

Opportunified by an errant back pass, Bobble forced Barker for an unnecessary extra touch before shooting. Crucially, this delay allowed the defender to make a last-minute tackle and direct the ball into the corner.

Barker says England wants 'X-Factor'

Barker says England wants ‘X-Factor’

“I had been playing well up until that season, but as I was on the bus home, reserve team manager Alan Murray said to me, ‘Oh, Keith. Had you scored your life would have changed forever Never mind, make me a coffee I was 17 and thought I missed my chance.

He never really regained his confidence. His first senior his manager was Souness, one of his famous hardmen in the game.

“I was afraid of him. Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke are two players who have had great careers at a great club like Manchester United and won the Champions League together,” he says.

But when Hughes took over Ewood Park, it became clear that he had no chance of breaking through. He did not make a first-team appearance for Rovers and moved to Rochdale, Circle Brugge and Ireland’s St Patrick’s Athletic before giving up when short-term contract Northwich Victoria virtually offered to pay him. rice field. Renewal of As You Play.

“In football, you might be at one of the best clubs in the country, play in the Premier League, then be released and have to start again in the conference or League Two,” says Barker.

“At the end I didn’t want to keep going because I felt I had too many kicks in my teeth. So I got to cricket.”

When Mark Hughes took over Blackburn, it became clear that Barker could not break through

When Mark Hughes took over Blackburn, it became clear that Barker could not break through

sports mailHis own David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd recommended him to Warwickshire on the back of Enfield’s strong performances in the Lancashire League. Former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd (Barker’s godfather due to his friendship with his late father Keith Sr.) was then in charge of contract negotiations. Lancashire were not the most pleased with the player lured out of Warwickshire in 2009, but their counter-his offer came too late.

Bumble kept in touch when Barker won the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s MVP award and the Cricket Writers’ Club’s Player of the Year award in October.

“He said congratulations and my family would be proud. said.

“I wasn’t going anywhere, so I was lucky to get it. I used to work for my ex-girlfriend’s dad, drive a van, and install headboards at a hotel in Malmaison.” I literally had nothing happening.

Barker thanked Sportsmail's David 'Bumble' Lloyd for helping him stand out in county cricket

barker thanked sports mailDavid ‘Bumble’ Lloyd of helped him stand out in county cricket

Barker remains connected to football, having been scouted for Aston Villa until a few seasons ago, but sees his future ahead of a two-year extension he recently signed for cricket’s Asias Bowl. There is

A Level 3 coach, he has a personal stint at Winchester College, supporting his career mentor Graeme Welch in coaching England’s top women’s cricketers.

After arriving at Edgebaston as a bowling hitter, it was bowling coach Welch who remodeled his behavior to devastating effect.

His first of a 50-wicket first-class season came in 2012 when Warwickshire won the title. Reunited with ‘Pop’ Welch at Hampshire ten years later, he was still in good spirits, having suffered 52 casualties, costing 22.38 runs each.

“I used to lick my wounds in football, and I’ve heard a lot of coaches say, ‘If only I knew what I know now.’ in my young body? Younger people think they know everything or are just deaf, right?

Barker was a player in the 2022 County Championship after a great season in Hampshire

Barker was a player in the 2022 County Championship after a great season in Hampshire

Barker, now a father of two, also reflects on the influence of his own father.

“One of the things that was said in this year’s evaluation was that I hit like a hitter despite being a tail-ender, because I was always raised to think that way.” I was in s***,” he laughs.

“The rule is if you hit 50, if you get 50 you get 100. And if you get 100, you don’t get out. At the age of 10 I scored 122 points and decided the last ball of the inning would be 6. The ball came off the toe of the bat and was caught in the middle.

“As I walked away, the lads kicked the bats out and gave me an archway. I am as happy as Larry. You can see a black man, he was 60 years old, and he was rushing at us, yelling at us, and I stood and bowed, we were all shocked, but his lesson was It helped me in my actual work.

Credit for his accolades should be shared with Hampshire attacking members Kyle Abbott, Mohammad Abbas and James Fuller, he says.

Barker said he should share credit with his bowling teammates, including Mohammad Abbas

Barker said he should share credit with his bowling teammates, including Mohammad Abbas

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