You’d be hard pushed to find anyone with a long-term involvement with European associate cricket who doesn’t have a good word to say about Phil Hudson, who was involved with the European Cricket Council and ICC Europe for over a decade.
He moved into coaching after a stint in second XI county cricket, mostly with Sussex, and a five season run with the MCC Young Cricketers, where the most notable of his teammates was future New Zealand – and almost Ireland – international Hamish Marshall.
The then European Cricket Council was funded by the MCC and it was through these links that Phil first became involved in European cricket, working with the Gibraltar Cricket Board on their youth development programmes and coaching their junior national teams.
He was an integral part of the Gibraltar side that won European Division Two in Glasgow in 2000, and which defended their title during the 2002 tournament in Northern Ireland. His best performances were 3-14 and 51 in the win against Germany in 2000, while he had the remarkable figures of 10-6-9-3 against Portugal in 2002, while his unbeaten 47 also helped them to a two-wicket win over Austria.
A job opportunity came up with the ECC as European Cricket Development Officer under Richard Holdsworth as the Development manager. Phil has fond memories of these early days, with European cricket being quite a close community. He describes it as a great job for spreading what cricket was about within Europe. He also worked on umpire and coach development.
He recalls meetings with government officials in various European countries to try and secure government recognition and support for the various national cricket boards.
As the ECC developed into ICC Europe, Phil was a manager for several tournaments, with at one point the number of tournaments run in a single year stretching into double figures. Phil lists managing tournaments in far flung corners of European cricket such as Bulgaria and Slovenia as particular highlights.
In addition to working with the lower ranked associate members in Europe, Phil also got to work with the likes of Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands and fondly remembers this diversity in the role as a highlight. He had roles with the European Cricket Academy, taking players to India and Dubai for tours. Several international players for European countries at all levels went through the academy during Phil’s involvement.
One of the last tournaments Phil was involved with as part of ICC Europe was the 2013 European Division One T20 championship in his home county of Sussex, with several matches at his home club of Horsham – for whom he played at Lords in 2005 in the ECB National Club Championship final, which they won by 3 runs. Phil lists this tournament as a highlight of his career.
Phil still keeps a keen eye on the European scene through social media and has done some coaching in the Netherlands since departing ICC Europe. He is currently the Lead Pathway Coach at Sussex County Cricket Club, coaching up to Under-18 level and also with the academy. The Sussex academy has had a few European associate players pass through it in recent years, most notably Jersey’s Jonty Jenner.
As far as recent developments in European cricket go, he is hopeful that universal T20I status can help with development and is impressed with the European Cricket League project, feeling that having club sides on TV gives all players something to aim for and ultimately help their development.
Phil has many fond memories of his time in European cricket, and for anybody who was involved in European cricket during his time, the feeling will certainly be mutual.