LEICESTERSHIRE CCC’s latest bowling recruit Ollie Freckingham has revealed how he almost quit cricket just months before signing his first professional contract.
Freckingham, from Somerby, last week signed a one-year deal with the Foxes along with fellow newcomer Angus Robson.
The multi-talented sportsman has played intermittently for the Grace Road club since he was eight, but only seriously decided to resurrect his cricketing ambitions three years ago.
The spark was ignited on a trip to Australia with friend and former Egerton Park team-mate Stuart Rose who was on an exchange trip to the Melton club’s sister club Hopper’s Crossing in Melbourne.
He said: “It was Stuart’s turn at Hopper’s Crossing and he asked me to go with him.
“That kind of kick-started me again to come back and move up a division to the Everards Premier.
“I joined Stoughton and Thurnby and then got scouted by Loughborough, and while I was bowling for them I got called up for the county second team.”
He made an immediate impact, taking five Durham wickets in the first innings of the match, enough to be asked back to Grace Road the following summer.
Work as shop manager at Rutland County Golf Club, and time on the course, restricted him to a handful of appearances for Leicestershire, but his performances were enough to earn further invites for Second XI duty.
And that winter Freckingham arrived at a crucial crossroads in his cricket career.
He added: “There was a little period when I didn’t get signed in the winter and thought my chances had gone, but I thought ‘no, let’s give it one more crack’, so I did.
“I virtually stopped playing golf and netted whenever I could. I also worked really hard in the gym and that helped me become more consistent this year.”
Freckingham’s industry was rewarded with some stellar performances this season, especially in the County League where he is comfortably the Premier Division’s leading wicket-taker.
He also impressed for county, and finally received the news he was waiting for during a Championship match with Glamorgan.
He said: “When I found out I was going to sign I was happy, but when the contract arrived through the post and I finally signed it, I was really excited.
“I had been bowling well – I wouldn’t have been there if I didn’t think it could happen.”
Freckingham is also a talented county golfer, having recently dropped from scratch to a still meagre handicap of one, and has been club champion no less than six times.
Equally at home on the football pitch, he also made several First XI appearances for Holwell Sports, but now must turn his back on the beautiful game to concentrate on cricket.
The former King Edward VII School pupil will also miss his odd Sunday match with Pickwell in the Grantham and Melton Cricket Association as he seeks to forge a career in pro sport.
It is a long time since Freckingham was beginning club cricket with Egerton Park, and at 23 he is a relative newcomer to professional cricket.
But he is determined to make up for lost time: “It would be late for a batsman because I haven’t come straight out of their academy, but for a bowler it isn’t too bad.
“Obviously my first aim is to get playing regularly in the seconds and hopefully play some first team cricket.”