Club Tropicana

Luke Fletcher

1 July 15 words: Scott Oliver
Local lad, cricket don and crowd favourite. We spoke to 'The Bulwell Bomber' about his silly antics in the dressing room
 
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Luke Fletcher. Photo: Stephanie Webb

Before you were a cricketer you were a grill man at Hooters, right?
I was about eighteen. I basically got the job because I knew the manager and he let me fit it in around cricket when I was trialling with the Notts Second Team. It lasted about three months. After that I worked on the gates at Trent Bridge because Notts wanted to keep an eye on me through the winter. My job was to let the lorries in and out while the new stand was being built, and after that I’d train with the first team. I did that for six months.

You were also a trainee goalie at Notts County, yet you’re a Forest fan…
I went through a good period when I was about eleven years old. I played for City Boys, and we got to Wembley. A few weeks later I was at Old Trafford with my school, in the last four teams in the country, and there were a few scouts around. A Man City scout, a Leeds scout, a Forest one and a County one all came up to me. I went to Notts County because my mates were there. I only lasted a few months, though. They wanted agility, and I wasn’t the most agile between the sticks.

I was told you became a cricketer to get out of school…
I didn’t become a pro for that reason, but when you are playing junior cricket for the county, it meant having Tuesday and Wednesday off school because they were two-day games. But I never really took my cricket seriously, not until I played for the Notts Second Team when I was seventeen, eighteen. I was just a club cricketer having a good craic with his mates. I’d be out Friday nights before playing for Papplewick, out on Saturdays after the game, and then play Sunday league.

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Photo: Stephanie Webb

Around that time you got picked for England under-nineteens…
It was really weird. Everything happened really quick. I got picked for England because I was playing in the fifty-over comp for the Notts First Team. Andy Pick, who’s now our bowling coach, was the England manager at the time. I only played half a season in the Second Team before I got offered a contract and I’ve never really looked back. I’ve had injuries and little setbacks, but it’s been good. Ideally, you don’t want to be spending a season playing down at Lady Bay.

You’ve become a bit of a yorker specialist and been mentioned a few times as a possible death-bowling pick for England in Twenty20. Is pulling on the three lions something you’ve thought about?
I have because people are starting to speak about it a bit, but it’s not something I go to bed thinking about. It’s an important T20 season for me. The pressure will be on to deliver again. It’s something I work really hard on. I don’t just rock up and do it on a Friday night.

As a bit of a cheeky chappy, and with Mick Newell occasionally being known to dish out the ‘hairdryer treatment’, have you ever crossed the line and been on the receiving end?
Loads of times. There’s loads of things I’ve done wrong that I’ve had a telling off about. Just stupid things you do when you’re young and you end up in the office. But Mick’s been really good with me over the years. He gives you a telling off and then moves on. He’s pretty good at that. He’s certainly got the respect of the dressing room.

Being a bit of a larrikin and dressing room joker, I guess you have a funny story or two…
My first season as a pro I got taken down to Kent as twelfth man. I was sat outside as the lads were fielding and they had these glass doors that you had to shove to open. It was drinks in the first session, so I’ve shoved these doors, and I’ve shoved them too hard. The whole glass pane came out and shattered all over Chris Read’s kit. The whole ground heard it, and I was just stood there with a big red face. They had a cardboard sheet up there for the rest of the game.

There was another game against Somerset at Taunton. Ready wanted me to start off bowling after lunch. I was on the toilet – sitting down. I heard the bell go, and didn’t even wipe or anything. I literally pulled my kecks up and ran out there and bowled an over. At that end of the over I told the umpire I’d have to go off and sort myself out. I got back out just in time for the next over; everyone was in stitches.

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Photo: Stephanie Webb

I’ve also heard you quite like a jet ski…
Yeah, I do. On the pre-season tour in Barbados, the lads would always take the micky for spending all my money on jet skis. I went on with Boonie [Paul Harrison, Notts dressing room attendant]. He was on the back with me, holding on. We got about a mile out and he fell off and couldn’t get back on. He was just bobbing up and down in the sea. They had to come out and rescue us. It was hilarious.

Aside from all of those, obviously, what’s been your best experience as a Notts cricketer?
I’ve had some cracking laughs, but I guess it would be being up at Old Trafford when we won the Championship on the last day in 2010. I was close to playing, but didn’t make the final eleven. But that was a weird few days. It had been raining a lot and things weren’t looking good. We had a team meal the night before and everyone was talking about tactics, how we were going to try and get the bonus points we needed. The way it panned out was amazing. There was also a game against Yorkshire at Headingley, and we were miles behind the game after the first innings, staring down the barrel, and we somehow managed to pull it round. We ended up winning by around 100 runs. That was a good day, and a good night out in Leeds.

And the worst times?
Any time you get left out of the side, really. Like now – I haven’t been involved in the Championship this year. When you’re young, you struggle with that but as you get a bit older you understand. And then there’s losing – we keep getting to these T20 quarter-finals and losing, which has been tough. Four years on the bounce now.

Why do you think the supporters warm to you? And what do you love about the club?
This is my eighth season now, and I do see this place as home. I got capped last year as well. I think the fans warm to me because they know how I feel about the place. For me to leave Notts, it’d have to be their decision, not mine. I’m wholehearted, a local lad – we’ve not got many – and I think the fans can relate to me. I always make sure I give 100% when I go out on the field, and I’m sure the fans appreciate that.

Notts Outlaws play at home on Friday 3 and Friday 10 July 2015.

Trent Bridge Cricket Ground website

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