Aston Villa’s Australian central midfielder Chris Herd is closely monitoring the progress of his country of birth at the cricket World Cup.
Australia play Sri Lanka in the one-day international tournament on Saturday at almost the same time as Villa step out at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium.
Herd, who was given his first start as the Villains crashed out of the FA Cup with a 3-0 loss at Manchester City on Wednesday, has told the Villa website of his second love – cricket.
Herd, who had previously made five brief substitute appearances this season, admits he was almost lost to cricket growing up in Perth.
“Ever since I was a little boy I had a ball at my feet, kicking it around in the back garden,” he told the club’s website:
“I got into football locally over in Australia and kept on playing. My dad coached me when I was younger growing up.”
“He was heavily involved in football and it just felt right and natural to follow in his footsteps.”
“But I took cricket quite seriously, to be fair, back then too. I played a lot in the off-season while I played football in season. But it was never really a difficult choice because I always knew it was going to be football for me.”
“Cricket is obviously well known as a major sport in Australia but football is growing and getting bigger all the time and is one of the biggest and most popular in the country now.”
“I did love playing cricket. I was a batsman.”
“I did a bit of bowling but my main strength was always my batting. But I always had my main focus on football. That never wavered.”
“That was always my main goal. I always dreamed of being a footballer.
“But I did love cricket too as a sport. It’s a good passion too now when I watch it. I don’t play it seriously. When I go home I have a bit of a knockabout with the boys but nothing too strenuous.
“I obviously follow the Australian team and I will be following their progress in the World Cup avidly.”
“Whenever I’ve got a chance, I’ll switch the television on and watch it. I think we’ll win it – I’ve got a good feeling. We have a new team with quite a few young players coming through the ranks.”
“It’s exciting times and interesting to see how they develop. A few of the older stars have moved on now.
“If Australia can win the World Cup, Villa can move steadily up the league and away from the relegation issues and I’ve played a few more games in the process too, it would be brilliant.”
“It would be the perfect scenario.”