Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Joe Cracknell on The Ashes, The Hundred and Yorkshire Cricket Club

Posted on 7 December 2021 by Ewan Lury

Joe Cracknell was one of the breakout stars of this Summer’s Hundred tournament.

His aggressive and attacking play-style is best summed up by his bio on the Hundred’s website:

“At just 21 years old, Cracknell has potential as both a batter and a keeper. He made his Middlesex debut at Lord’s in 2020. Scores rapidly.”

As I read this out to Joe in our interview, he laughed but denied that he wrote it himself. In fact he was just happy that the Hundred recognised his wicket keeping ability!

Joe in action for Middlesex

Brought in as a late reserve for London Spirit, he told me the story about how he found out he was going to play in a team managed by the legendary Shane Warne:

“I put myself in the draft a year and a half before the hundred because it doesn’t cost me anything to enter!

“Then I got texts from Eoin Morgan saying we’d love to have you in the team as Dan Lawrence has been picked for the test team. I just sat there and said, wow this is unbelievable.”

Modesty and Elite Mentality

But Cracknell is extremely modest here. He has already played 18 games for Middlesex’s T20 side with an impressive 139.51 average and a top score of 77.

He is also slowly starting to get opportunities in red ball cricket, a format that doesn’t suit his natural game style, but one that he has been working on a lot.

Joe in action in red ball cricket

Again however, Cracknell presents himself in a way that is unbelievably down to earth and humble:

“I’m not trying to overachieve. I’d love to play a few more games in red ball cricket but I understand that I need to be able to score runs in the second team to be able to do that.”

It feels as though the sky’s the limit for Cracknell, but his focus is much more on the team than himself. Middlesex struggled in this year’s T20 campaign, finishing second bottom and only winning 4 of their 14 games.

Joe focused on the ball

 

“At Middlesex we are trying to create a really good team culture because of how we have struggled. This will actually mean that all of us will play better and our results will then get better. Ultimately, we need to start making winning a habit as a team.”

Similarly despite London Spirit finishing bottom in the inaugural season of the Hundred, Joe impressed, even going viral for his excellent dive on the boundary that prevented a six against the Manchester Originals.

https://twitter.com/thehundred/status/1425183476077182978?s=20

The Hundred

Joe was extremely passionate about the Hundred’s impact on the women’s game. With total spectator numbers for the women’s games being at 267000, it broke records as the highest ever recorded for a women’s cricket event.

He went on and discussed the impact that T20 cricket had on the game, and how The Hundred enabled English cricket to stand out from the crowd:

“When T20 cricket was introduced, there were a lot of sceptics saying it’s not going to work. But the way the IPL, PSL, Big Bash and other franchise tournaments are going, if you want to compete, you have to do something different yourself, and The Hundred was exactly that.”

 

Joe in action for Middlesex

A Rough Month ahead for Joe Cracknell

With the Ashes beginning later this evening, Joe and I went on to talk about how are sleep schedules would be affected.

Both doing full-time University degrees, we acknowledged it would be a struggle but we would try to watch as much as possible without our lecturers finding out.

As a realist, Joe can’t see England winning the urn, as he predicted a 3-1 win to Australia over the five-match series. But as a biased and hopeful England fan, he just wants England to win by any margin.

“Yes they’ve got superstars like Smith, Labuschagne and Warner who are probably three of the best test batsmen in the world at the moment, but they do have holes with Alex Carey on debut and Cameron Green holding up the middle order.”

I still need convincing, but we can all dream.

Joe taking the praise from his team after a half century

Racism in Cricket

Joe also spoke about the Yorkshire racism scandal and the sympathy he feels for Azeem Rafiq. He couldn’t imagine how it would feel to be so isolated from his own team, again referencing the closeness of Middlesex’s group.

But Joe saw that there was so clearly much work still to be done. He struggled to see how Yorkshire would ever come back from this and said that more work needs to be done.

For example, he mentioned how there were drug and gambling lecturers that you take as a player, but currently not a racism lecture, one that we agreed was essential.

A Bright Future

Now signed for Middlesex till 2024 Joe Cracknell has the potential to be one of the best cricketers in the country.

2022 has the potential to be his year, one where he could cement himself as a go to opening batsman in T20 cricket for Middlesex, and maybe, just maybe, make a case for England come 2023.

All photos supplied by Joe Cracknell for use