Local star’s first-class cricket dream

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Alex Mellor has returned to his local roots after fulfilling his lifelong dream in cricket at the highest level, spending four years with Edgbaston outfit Warwickshire CCC.

Mellor represented his local club Leek CC from the youth system and graduated through the ranks to the first team where he managed to make his breakthrough into first class cricket. He’s now back on home soil after joining local county side Staffs CCC, where he will act as a player coach for the upcoming season.

The left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman compiled an unbeaten 208 against Suffolk at Longton, which paved the way for his move to Warwickshire.

He made 26 appearances across the pro formats before being released by the county side in 2019.

Mellor, 29, returned to Leek in 2020 as skipper following a stint in the Birmingham League and guided the Moorlanders to a fourth-placed finish in the top flight. He will also be the Moorlanders’ player-coach this year aswell as a new role with home county side Staffs CCC.

Mellor never hit the heights at first-class level but looks back on the achievement as a lifelong dream.

He said: “Professional cricket was a lifelong goal, a dream, for me. It’s what I wanted to do and to be able to say that I have achieved a dream and have been there is special, to have done it for four years is just as special.

“I think in professional sport, not just cricket, you’re either liked or not liked. Look at the Premier League, when a new coach comes in, they like some players better than others and that’s just everyday sport and everyday life.

“In my final year, I performed really well, my best actually. But, if your face doesn’t fit in the mould they’re trying to create, it just doesn’t fit.”

Mellor has now seen the differences at all levels of cricket, whether it be localised, county or first-class and understands why people opt for localised as there is less pressure on players to perform.

He said: “You still get the talented players at county and local level. The main difference as a pro is that you train day in day out and that just adds pressure to the game situations. You’re always looking to learn new skills and better yourself every game.

“With localised cricket, I see why people choose it. There’s minimal pressure compared to the pro game, you also have a great social side of things where you just turn up with your mates and can focus on just enjoying the game we all love.

“The lads at club cricket work 9-5, Monday to Friday so there’s a difference straight away. A lot of players in club cricket have great ability but it’s whether they want it or not and they can out all the time and effort in the world and it might not pay off.”

After the cut-short season of 2020 due to COVID, many clubs, especially at a local club level suffered with loss of revenue, social meetings and getting involved in their club’s community. Mellor believes that although the amount of negativity that the virus brought was high, clubs will come back stronger for the new season.

He said: “It was a setback for many clubs, certainly the clubs who are at the heart of their community. You have to look at other avenues, this period has giving clubs a time to improve and upgrade their facilities and plans for the new season of cricket.

“I think there will be a positive effect on some league cricket clubs because you have so many people who missed out on it, they will be dying to get that social aspect of playing cricket, the competitiveness and just having a good time getting involved with their clubs.

“2019 was the year for England cricket you know with the story of Ben Stokes and the World Cup win and then the virus just shut things down but I think now we know the outlined plan of action by the government, we will see so many bodies and people come back into the sport in 2021.”

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