Our man in Jakarta: the Andy Cottam interview
- Credit: Archant
He is a former pro cricketer from Seaton who has shared a changing room with England greats Caddick and Trescothick and worked with Warne. He is now the coach of the Indonesian national cricket team. Steve Jennings spoke to Andy Cottam.
Andy Cottam is the Seaton lad tasked with developing cricket in Indonesia.
The former Somerset professional, who played for the cider county between 1992 and 1996, had been coaching in Australia when the offer came to relocate to Jakarta and it was one he couldn’t decline:
“My role is National Head Coach for men’s and women’s cricket,” he explains. “My objective is to develop more players at national level and to coach coaches on how to create elite cricketers. Our aim is to play as many tournaments as possible to see where we compare with other nations.”
It was always going to be a cricketing life for Andy. Born in Northampton in July 1973, his father Bob was a fast-medium bowler who played for Hampshire, Northants and in four Test matches for England. The Cottam family relocated to Seaton after Bob accepted a job at Allhallows School, near Lyme Regis, when Andy was just three. A cricket mad family, Andy formed a love of the game playing at Seaton Cricket Club with brothers Mike and Dave. It was doting mother Jackie who made sure her sons attended net sessions and games.
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“I was just born into cricket, I never had a choice really,” he says. “When I learnt to walk, I had a cricket bat in my hand. I used to watch Dad and my brother’s play and wanted to join in.”
After excelling in the youth teams, Andy was starring for Seaton’s first XI bowling his left-arm spin in the Devon Premier League aged just 14. One year later he was playing for Devon. It was somewhat fortunate for Andy that Somerset’s chief executive, Peter ‘Panda’ Anderson, was a Seaton player and this opened doors at Taunton with Andy joining as a youth training scheme professional at 16.
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“Aside from training with the players, my job was to help groundsman Phil Frost,” he recalls. “I played my first 2nd XI game against Hampshire three weeks after joining and signed as a full-time professional at the end of that winter.”
By 1992, Andy was in the first team, his debut against Sussex before a memorable game against Gloucestershire, where he played a key part in an unlikely win: “In the 2nd session on the first day I was batting with Neil Mallender, with the score 80 for 8. I walked out to face Courtney Walsh, the West Indian fast bowler. I remember seeing the wicket keeper 30 metres back and thought, ‘this guy must be quick!’
“We put on 50 and I scored 31 with most of these runs coming off Walsh, the number one bowler in the world at that time. Somerset went on to win the match and I felt proud that I had contributed.”
Andy also played two test matches for England U19s against Sri Lanka and took a credible 4 for 69 at Headingley. He was voted Somerset’s young player of the year and the world appeared to be his oyster. But, in a strange twist, father Bob had joined Somerset as Director of Cricket. But there would be no family favours for Andy as Cottam senior signed Mushtaq Ahmed, and the great Pakistan spinner would ultimately block Andy’s route into the first team.
Seeking pastures new to develop his career, Andy had spells at Northants and Derbyshire before playing a few more games for Somerset in 1996. He spent 1997 in the 2nd XI then enjoyed much success playing for Devon until 1999 under the captaincy of the colourful and controversial Peter Roebuck.
“I enjoyed playing for Devon,” he remembers. “We were a successful side enjoying two wins at Lords.”
With his playing days over, Andy relocated to Perth, Australia, to seek new opportunities. “I wanted to coach cricket,” he recalls, “I was employed at the WACA (Perth’s world famous cricket ground) and started coaching elite cricketers in my region. I studied and qualified as a high performance coach at level three – the highest qualification - and in sport psychology.”
Having built a good reputation for himself, Andy was invited to work for Australia’s National Spin Clinic with spin great Shane Warne who impressed Andy: “He is just a normal bloke,” he recalls. “A typical Aussie lad, a very good player who has made a few quid out of the game. I liked him.”
Then last year he saw an ad to work for Cricket Indonesia. It was too good an opportunity to ignore: “The standard is good,” he says. “They are professional cricketers that work hard, they understand the game and pick up very quickly on new methods. And they like to compete and are great people to work with.”
This commitment means Andy lives in Bali and Jakarta most of the time – and he was in the city when the recent earthquake struck - with his family residing in Perth. But it is a sacrifice that he believes is worth it: “I am incredibly proud to be given the opportunity to coach a team at international level and give something back to these players in Indonesia,” he says. “I would not be surprised if in the next two years you see an Indonesian playing T20 cricket for a franchise somewhere in the world as there are a few exciting players to keep an eye on.”