The Aussies haven’t offered too many favours to English cricket recently but one local star in the making certainly benefitted from his experience Down Under.
Eastbourne’s Callum Jackson spent last winter in Australia representing Charlestown Cricket Club.
England’s miserable performance in the Ashes series must have made Callum a target for some gentle ribbing from his team mates and opponents, but the 19-year-old responded in the best possible way.
He struck more than 500 runs during his time in Newcastle, just north of Sydney, against some fired up young Aussie bowlers eager to impress in their state leagues.
On his return to the UK in March, Jackson maintained his good form and has been working hard in the Sussex nets in preparation for the upcoming campaign.
He certainly started 2014 on the right track. Last Saturday he blitzed the Portslade bowlers in a devastating spell of batting that saw him hit 102 from just 67 balls.
It ensured a comfortable victory for Eastbourne in the Gray Nicolls T20 Cup and sent out a clear message that Jackson means business this season.
“Australia was great for me,” he said. “It really helped improve my game and I came back full of confidence.
“My batting has improved and hopefully I can go on to make more big scores this season. The whole experience over there was great. It was a good standard of cricket - probably the same as Sussex Premier or maybe a bit higher.
“I enjoyed the lifestyle. There were plenty of beaches nearby and always lots to do.”
Jackson signed a contract with Sussex after leaving Bede’s School and this is the first year he can concentrate 100 per cent on cricket.
He added, “I’m at the nets every day from 9.30am to 1pm working on my batting and doing whatever.
“You get to work on your technical side, you work on game plans and how to manage an innings. Being able to do that after the experience in Australia has been great.
“I have seen the difference as I’m doing it every day now.”
Jackson is eager to emulate the achievements of previous cricketers from Eastbourne and enjoy a successful professional career.
In recent times the likes of Tom Smith, Ollie Rayner and Ben Brown have all progressed from Eastbourne Cricket Club and achieved county recognition, while Ed Giddins and James Kirtley were selected for England.
Sussex signed wicket-keeper batsman Jackson on a oneyear deal ahead of the 2014 season.
He made his first team debut in all forms of the game in 2013, including a first-class debut against the Australian touring team in July.
This year Jackson will be competing alongside Brown for a place in the Sussex first XI as wicketkeeper batsman.
He added, “There is a healthy rivalry between myself and Ben. We train together and talk all the time. To have two from Eastbourne competing for the same spot is good.
“Ben has done well and hopefully I can push him this season.
“I played in the T20’s last year and that is hopefully an area where I can push for a first team place.
“It’s a big year for me, my contract runs out at the end of the year and I want to be able to do enough to earn myself another one.”
Jackson is expected to line-up for Eastbourne against Roffey in the Sussex Premier League tomorrow.
He will be batting at number three and could be a key player if Eastbourne are to re-establish themselves back in the top tier of Sussex cricket.