Kent seam bowler Charlie Hartley has been brushing up on his death bowling and learning a little Swahili during a short stint playing Twenty20 cricket in the East African country of Tanzania, writes Mark Pennell.
The 23-year-old agreed to join Advanced Players League franchise St Gobain Strikers to play in Tanzania’s national short-form competition as part of his pre-season fitness rehabilitation programme.
Last November Hartley had picked up a shoulder injury when fielding during a club game in South Africa which forced him to miss Kent’s close-season sojourn to the Caribbean. So, in order to catch up on his fitness, the right-armer jumped at the chance to play in Tanzania’s national T20 event based in the east coast city of Dar es Salaam.
“It was Min Patel [Kent’s 2nd XI coach] who came up with the idea of going to Africa,” said Hartley, taking up the story. “I’d been playing for Durbanville, just outside Cape Town, in November and everything was great until we got to the second round of their T20.
"I dived in the field and, as I hit the floor, felt my left shoulder pop out. Thankfully it went pretty much straight back in, but there was ligament damage and the possibility of surgery, so Kent asked me to fly straight back for assessment.
“Surgery would have meant having the whole season out, which really wasn’t an option for me, so, while the rest of the lads went out to Antigua, I stayed at home and had Dan, Nimmo and Will, our three physios, all helping and working on my rehab, which went really well and very quickly.
“Min then suggested I might think of going to Tanzania, and yes, I’ll admit that my geography isn’t great and that I had to look it up in an atlas, but it turned out to be perfect for my needs. A couple of weeks of cricket, out in the middle, on the turf, and happily our franchise, the Strikers, went on to win it.
“I loved the place itself, it was a mixture of Mumbai and Dubai, and I picked up a few words in Swahili from the other bowlers. I found out later that, when translated, one of the phrases meant ‘Oi fat bum!’ So it wasn’t at all useful in everyday life.”
Hartley has since injured his right little finger when stopping a ball in the nets driven back to him by Zak Crawley, but he is still raring to go and looking forward to the season proper.
“I’m looking forward to the start of the 50 over competition,” added Hartley. “I proved at the end of last season with a couple of one-day performances that my back injury is behind me, it’s no longer a talking point. So, I think that’s the competition where I can seriously throw my name into the hat.”