Liam Cook playing key role in the rise and rise of Brazilian ladies cricket

The Brazilian ladies cricket team. Picture: LIAM COOK

The Brazilian ladies cricket team. Picture: LIAM COOK - Credit: Archant

Liam Cook is back in Brazil working with the national ladies’ cricket XI, writes Steve Birley.

The 31-year-old son of Exmouth Town’s Martin Cook, was born and raised in Exmouth, but these days his own family home is in Bexley in South East England.

Earlier this year we reported on how Liam had become involved in cricket in the South American country and recently the Brazilian ladies climbed up the world ranking and currently sit 27th.

Speaking from Brazil, Liam says: “Part of the success is down to the infrastructure that has been put in place for the high-performance players.

“The facilities here in Poços are fantastic and a lot of investment is being made in the women’s game here in Brazil.

“The players have opportunities to train five days a week, they have access to the strength and conditioning coaches, physios, nutritionists and sport psychologists.

“President of Cricket Brazil, Matt Featherstone, works very hard to engage local businesses and the support Cricket Brazil receives within the local area is fantastic.”

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He continues: “I would also put part of the success down to the focus on grass roots cricket within Poços De Caldas. “Cricket Poços and cricket Brazil engage with thousands of children weekly through social projects.

“Each year more Brazilian children are playing the sport, for me this has created a strong foundation for the continued growth of cricket in Brazil.”

So, how has the Covid-19 situation affected his work in South America?

Liam responds saying: “The Covid-19 numbers in Poços De Caldas are very low compared to the rest of Brazil.

“The city is fairly isolated and has done a fantastic job managing the flow of people in and out of the city during the pandemic.

“Cricket is being played under very specific regulations, but we are currently training five days a week and playing matches at weekends.”

On the specifics of the pandemic and where he is, we then asked about the situation with regard to face masks.

Liam said: “With regard to masks being worn, it is not a legal requirement to wear them on the streets here in Poços, but the majority of people are wearing them.

“Local businesses have social distancing measures in place.”

He continued: “We aren’t in a bubble as such out here, but as I have said, we are training under stringent social distancing regulations to reduce risk to players and their families.”

We next asked Liam what the nest target is for ladies’ cricket in Brazil and he replied saying: “The aim for Cricket Brazil Women’s team is to reach the top 20 in the world within the next 18 months.

“Long term we are looking for World Cup Qualification.”

He continued: “With the long-term goal being World Cup qualification, I would say there may one day be a chance to coach the Brazilian team against England.

“It’s got to be the dream, but let’s hit the top 20 first...

“Ask me this question again please in 18 months time...”

We then asked Liam what he feels are the main differences between cricket in the UK and cricket in South America.

He says: “I would say the main difference between cricket in Brazil and the UK is the culture created around the sport.

“In Brazil there isn’t a stereotypical cricketer.

“A lot of that is down to the social projects and the opportunity for the kids for the most deprived areas to play the game.”

Last, but not least, we asked Liam as to his own situation what with lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions in various countries.

He replied saying: “Well, I am still out here in Brazil.

“When I heard the change in lockdown restrictions in the UK, I changed my flights.

“The plan is to return to the UK in November.

“I shall have to then isolate for a couple of weeks before splitting my time between running my business, TOP Cricket Academy and zoom calls to Brazil.

“We are still waiting for confirmation of schedules for the South American Championships and the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifiers in Canada.

“As soon as we get those dates I will be back on plane to Brazil.”

As a footnote, and reaffirming the link to Exmouth – and Exmouth Town Football Club – via his father Martin’s association with all things Southern Road, just prior to our interview with Liam he had been 5-a-side football at a local Brazilian club and, in the game, ‘Cookie’ scored four goals!

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