Tim Brooks (History, 1999)

Alumnus talks how he combined his career with his love of cricket

Alumnus, Tim Brooks (History, 1999), talks about how his time at Exeter led him to pursue his passion for Cricket.

University Days

I came to Exeter in 1996, following in the footsteps of my parents and older brother, with a passion for history and a keen interest in cricket.

Lacking the on field talent to get into the University team, I ended up spending many hours on the sports fields attempting to avoid breaking my fingers during slip cradle sessions. I can also recall taking a spectacular full length diving catch at Woolacombe beach, North Devon, on a post exam trip with friends. My two passions came together when my Professor, Bruce Coleman, a nimble wicket-keeper in his day, would arrive at our seminars breathless and several minutes late after overseeing the toss in the varsity games.

I have very fond memories of Birks Hall, rushed all day breakfasts in Devonshire House, weekend vigils at the Lemmy and representing Birks Hall at Hockey twenty minutes after my first ever clasp of a stick. Long afternoons mulling over British naval stratagems in the library and heated debates about Trotsky’s moral compass, or lack of one, in the Peter Chalk centre remain vivid memories. I was also busy running the carwash nightclub and had a brief dabble in University Radio.

Career path after graduation

Post university, following a short period of teaching, I became a policy advisor for DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs), working on water policy and leading on food exports. However, my passion for cricket remained undimmed and rather alarmed by how exclusive cricket writing had become, with very little written other than test nations, I took up the baton for the sport. Starting with short pieces on the internet, I soon established a reputation for championing global development and began writing for Wisden and several magazines. A highlight was attending the Wisden 150th anniversary dinner at the Long Room at Lords, where I chatted to Michael Palin about the high-altitude game he played during his Himalaya series.

By this time I was hooked on the lower reaches of international rankings. Although only 12 nations play tests, with Ireland and Afghanistan recently elevated, there are 106 members of the ICC across the world. I’ve seen 52 international teams play live, which I suspect is some form of record. After a chance introduction in Dubai in 2012, when I was covering the World Cup Qualifiers for Wisden, I had the opportunity to commentate which I very much enjoyed. I became head of Cricket for QTV Sports, a Scottish company providing live streaming of non-test international cricket. For one fixture, Ireland versus Pakistan in Dublin, we had an audience of 300,000. Later that summer I commentated with Mike Gatting at Lords. It was all a rather improbable dream come true. Over time I felt a desire to support the game directly rather than just write and commentate on it. I began to work as a development consultant for the ICC and for their associate members, advising on growing participation levels, devising development pathways and getting greater exposure in the media. As a result, I visited Greece, Norway, Germany, Denmark and Sweden and I was inspired by the passion for the game in cricket’s outposts.

Now and beyond

I put these experiences into a book, Cricket on the Continent, which was published last December and charts the history as well as looking at the future for cricket in the region. I now juggle my cricket interests with a more senior role in Government and the recent birth of a daughter, but I hope to continue to work with countries to develop their cricket. I’d also like to run seminars and workshops for students studying sports and sport marketing, to see how cricket can seek to compete with football to capture the public imagination outside its traditional centres and vie for sponsorship and investment to make it to a truly global sport. 

Date: 27 November 2017

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