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Former Warwickshire man hopes to make new competition a success.
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Jonathon Webb has told the PCA of his excitement at being involved in the launch of cricket’s newest product: The Hundred.
Webb’s career as a professional cricketer ended in 2016, a year after he missed an entire season through a shoulder injury. Since retirement, the 27-year-old has worked as a Marketing Manager for the ECB. However, as of Monday 22 July, Webb has started a new position as a Fan Engagement Manager for The Hundred.
The PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme (PDWP) aids cricketers such as Webb as they transition from their playing career into life after cricket. Through the programme, current and former professionals can access educational resources, as well as funding for training courses, amongst other things.
Below, Webb explains how he prepared for life after cricket during his playing days and then embraced the new challenge, despite the pressure that came with it.
- Tell us a little bit about your current employment situation.
- As of Monday 22 July, I’m in a new position as Fan Engagement Manager for The Hundred. Previously, I have had responsibility for the marketing of the ECB’s domestic competitions, including the Vitality Blast as well the England men’s team. In this new role I’ll be part of a team building the new team brands and driving engagement for The Hundred which is something I’m really excited about.
- That sounds like an incredible opportunity. What does the new role involve specifically?
- I’ll have responsibility for the South London and Southampton-based teams and will report to the Head of Fan Engagement, Joe Steel. It is predominantly a marketing role where I’ll work with the host venues and help to build the team brands, plan for the player draft in October, build marketing plans and campaigns to help engage our audiences and then ultimately sell tickets as we build up to year one.
- When did you start planning for life after cricket?
- I suppose I always had one eye on ‘what’s next’. I was already into my second year at Leeds University when I was signed. I had hoped to be signed by the time I left school but, when that didn’t happen, I went to Sydney for the winter and then started my degree the following year. At the time, all I wanted to do was be a cricketer and I was frustrated not to be offered a contract. Now, I am so glad it worked out this way so I could get a degree under my belt. It also helped at the time, having a better balance in my life and a welcome distraction so cricket didn’t consume me. Professional sport is sometimes pretty brutal and therefore having a fallback was really important to me.
- You put the building blocks in one after the other. Describe exactly what you did?
- In 2015, I injured my shoulder and was out for the whole season. I’d already planned some work experience in the Commercial Department at Edgbaston and just said “can you have me a bit earlier?” It was either sit on the sofa and do rehab or use my time more effectively. It was really good and I look back at that time fondly. The timing was perfect. It was really busy with the Ashes, T20 Blast Finals Day as well as the club undertaking a rebrand for the ‘Birmingham Bears’.
- Didn’t you also do some work experience with a design agency?
- Yes, it was actually with the company tasked with the Bears rebrand. It was excellent and really helped me discover what work and working environment I felt I would enjoy. If it hadn’t been for that and especially the placement at Edgbaston, I don’t think I’d have had the confidence to go for the ECB job.
- Even though you had planned well, what was the feeling when you were told your contract wasn’t going to be renewed?
- Strangely, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I hadn’t quite realised how much pressure I had put on myself going into the last year of my contract. After breaking into the first team in 2014, injuries hindered my 2015 season and then in 2016 I had lost a bit of love for the game. I spent about six weeks at Gloucestershire where I performed well and really enjoyed the cricket as I tried to take the pressure off myself a little, but it felt right to look into a new challenge within a different career.
- How long did it take you to settle in when you started at the ECB?
- My Warwickshire contract officially ended on 31st September and I started with the ECB a few days later. The first three months were a bit of a honeymoon period. Everything was new and I enjoyed taking in all of the new experiences. It was certainly surreal getting used to the dynamic of an office and I really enjoyed the change. It was when I returned to London after Christmas that I said to myself “this is me now… I’m going to be working in an office for the rest of my life.” It was funny at the time and I have no regrets even when the season started and I saw my teammates playing. I really haven’t looked back.
- Do you still keep fit and see that as important?
- I didn’t do much exercise for the first six months and noticed my physique change from sitting at a desk all day. I soon realised it is important for my health and general wellbeing to keep active and now go to the gym a few times a week and play lots of social sport in London, including 5-a-side football and touch rugby – I absolutely love it.