Henry Cooper has hit the ground running in a race he hopes will lead to a Northern Districts contract back in New Zealand.
Just past his 23rd birthday, he got 852 runs for the Oak last season before playing regular second XI cricket in James Pamment’s ND squad back home – averaging 40 with the bat.
He’s hoping to take the next step into the first-class arena, and believes a second season in the Colne Valley can only help.
“It’s such a good club with good people, but there are heaps of factors why I came back, because the league is competitive and the facilities are what you want,” he explained.
“The pitch is good and it’s awesome playing here – it would be a long six months if you went somewhere you didn’t enjoy.
“I’ve been pleased with my form. Having had the experience of last year I’ve been able to settle straight in – because conditions are so different to back home – but hopefully I can carry things on.
“Our squad has real depth and I do think we can win something.
“Last year it felt sometimes we were trying to patch an XI together, whereas this year we’ve got 14 or 15 guys trying to knock the door down to come into our team.
“Everyone loves it, the club is awesome to be a part of and you just feel something special could happen this year.”
In Hamilton, after being a No3 batsman all his life, Cooper dropped to No5 but bowled his off-spin a lot more.
“Being a full all-rounder is probably my pathway to first-class,” he explained.
“In New Zealand, there are 15 contracts to hand out, which are for six months, and I was 17 on the list last year.
“Hopefully this time, with a good season at Broad Oak under my belt and screaming my name from the rooftops, I can sneak in the back door for a contract come August.”
He accepts it’s a tough route.
“I’m on the fringe of the first-class side and this is my fifth season playing second XI, but at the moment ND are so strong,” he explained.
“It’s similar to Yorkshire here, when everyone is available ND can pick 13 either current or former Black Caps, so the depth is ridiculous.
“James Pamment has been very supportive of me coming back, though, and believes it’s the right thing to do.
“He got me to come here in the first place and was happy for me to come back, because it’s a good standard and he can keep an eye on how I’ve going from afar.”