As a kid it was always a dream to represent and play for the QLD Bulls, to experience what it was like to walk out onto the Gabba in the baggy maroon as so many legends of QLD cricket have done so in the past. I remember growing up watching the likes of Bichel, Kasprowicz, Noffke and Dawes and knew I wanted to be just like them. From a young age I gave my full commitment to fulfilling my dream, looking to improve my fitness, strength, and skill level. Even though I did not have the extended career I had dreamed of as a kid due to injuries, form and self-confidence, I have had some amazing memories that I can be proud of and was fortunate to play with some absolute legends of the game.
“I was awfully close to turning down the opportunity to play”
I have always been someone who put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. I set high expectations, which I believe is a good trait to have but at a young age I did not know how to deal with the pressure of not performing. When I lost my contract at 23, I realized I had also lost the love and passion for the game I once had as a teenager. It took many years to find that fire in me again, but I did. I believe this was due to having a good work, life balance and getting to know myself more in the real world. I’d walked straight out of school with a rookie contract and was so focused on my game and the type of cricket player I wanted to emulate, I never stopped to reflect on what type of man I wanted to be outside of cricket. Once I began my Secondary Teaching Education degree in HPE and English and ventured out starting my own cricket coaching business (Alister McDermott Cricket Academy), I realised that giving back to the community and sharing my knowledge & experience meant a lot to me, whether it was going to be through coaching or teaching.
During the 19/20 season I had played majority of the Second XI games for QLD. Towards the end of the season I found myself burnt out; my body was sore, my mind was drained and felt like I needed a break. I got a call to play the last Second XI game of the season, I was awfully close to turning down the opportunity to play. As a kid I never would have even considered turning down an opportunity to play a game of cricket! After speaking to family and friends, I realised I was not ready to give up on the chance to walk out out onto the Gabba wearing the baggy maroon again, and I wanted to do the right thing by all my coaches who have helped me over the years. I am glad I did not turn down the opportunity as a few months later I received a contract with QLD again for the 19/20 season, I was thrilled, but nothing could have prepared me for what was ahead.
The first 7 months of the 19/20 season, threw an onslaught of challenges at me. It was by far the most mentally challenging time during my career. In the space of two months I went from the highs of receiving a contract to breaking the radius bone in my right arm in July during a fielding session. Then I sustained my fourth stress fracture in 7 years in my lower back only months later. Walking out onto the Gabba felt further away than ever. Those 7 months were a constant battle to get back on the park. I became far too familiar with the rehab group and felt less connected to the playing group. Even though you are at all sessions talking to players and hanging out, being injured is hard and is as mentally challenging as it is physically, I think it is a common feeling among injured players. I had severe back pain which only struck when I bowled. Even off a couple of steps the pain was unbearable, literally bringing me to tears during several training sessions. The hopes of playing for QLD again were slipping away in front of me.
the pain was unbearable, literally bringing me to tears during several training sessions
During these times, so many thoughts were going through my head, “Do I even want to go through another rehab block” and “why is this happening?”. At times I had little motivation to turn up to training as I felt I was letting my teammates down and to the coaches and selectors who had given me another opportunity to play for QLD. Even now it is still hard to recount the events of last season. With tremendous support from my family, close friends and talking to the QLD Bulls psychologist, I tried to remain positive and work towards short and long-term goals. Looking back, I probably should have taken a step back from training for a period to mentally refresh and reset. Sometimes taking a step back can help you progress forward quicker.
When I was told of not getting a contract with QLD, it was hard to process initially on the back of everything else I had been through. It was time to reflect and decide on what my goals and ambitions were in life moving forward. After a period of reflection, I knew building a family with my beautiful wife Erin, continuing my cricket coaching business and finishing my Secondary Teaching degree is what I truly wanted to do. I still want to play lower grade cricket at Wynnum Manly District Cricket Club (WMDCC) as I believe now is the time for me to give back to the game. I remember when I started playing premier grade cricket in 2006 for the Gold Coast Dolphins, I learnt a great deal about game awareness and my own game from the older players and am incredibly grateful for their advice. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Dolphins, Ross Wallace (Head Coach) and all the senior players who helped develop me and gave me opportunities at such a young age.
WMDCC has been my home in Brisbane for 10 years and provided me the opportunity to kick start my coaching career 5 years ago, I still to this day thoroughly enjoy coaching at WMDCC. Coaching has already provided me with many great opportunities to be involved with certain clubs, schools and travel to regional towns and overseas. My goal in coaching is to not only improve players cricketing skills, but also educate players to help understand their own game whilst embrace and overcome all challenges they face playing cricket and in life. Nothing beats being able to help and watch the development of a player, learning new skills, and see their pure enjoyment in playing the game. This is what drives me to be a better coach every day. I enjoy reading, listening, and watching documentaries to learn more about leadership, what motivates people and strategies on how I can be a better coach and connect with players. I recently finished a 3-day holiday camp, and after what has been a challenging several months for everyone, to see nearly 50 kids constantly running around with beaming smiles on their faces, playing cricket, was a great feeling to have again.
If only I knew then what I know now about cricket and how to deal with challenges on the field, I believe I could have had a longer career. I hope I can impart my knowledge, experiences and lessons learned to help young cricketers fulfill their own dreams. I look forward to what the future ahead holds for me with my coaching and teaching. I might see you on the cricket field or in the classroom someday soon.