In last week’s The Bridge, we brought you news of two ‘international’ cricketers playing the season for Nondies Cohuna Cricket Club and profiled Archie Sussex from Wales. Today [23 November 2023], we profile Karim Marcelle.
23-year-old Karim was born in Grenada, an island in the West Indies, but moved to London at an early age. He has the unique opportunity of splitting his time between England and the Caribbean, spending six months in each and playing cricket in both countries. This year, he has chosen to spend six months in Cohuna playing A-Grade cricket and coaching the Under 17s, and boarding with a local family.
No stranger to travelling and not shy to explore the world, Karim was keen to live in a part of the world he had not been before. Tossing up between New Zealand and Australia, it was Nondies Cohuna’s Kyeran Ellery who enticed Karim to Cohuna, sealing the deal with his enthusiasm and support.
“He was a nice guy who was keen to have me along and to give me a life changing experience, and for me being young as well, it’s always nice to be wanted. That itself makes you want to come over and help the club out and be part of a team which can win and do well,” said Karim.
“I Googled the club first to see what that was like. Nice wicket, nice pitch. Then, I had a look at the town map to see what was here.”
With parents who are excited for Karim to gain more life experiences, this trip was no different. “They’re very happy and very supportive of me doing what I want to do.”
Arriving in October, he was quickly reassured Cohuna was the right choice. “Everyone’s lovely, everyone’s friendly, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said.
“It’s really nice to have everything in a walking accessible distance. That’s actually a really nice change from having to drive half an hour just to do anything in London.”
You’ll find Karim working at Ampol service station. “I’ve found that a really good way to connect to people,” he says of the customers who strike up conversation with him. “That’s helped me feel more at home here, being in an environment where everyone tries to understand why you’re here and what you’re doing here, and how you can help the community, which is nice.”
Karim has played cricket in England since he was 9 years old, first playing for Surrey, then Kent and Derbyshire Academy until he was 19. He swapped the bat for a hockey stick for two years, returning to cricket last year, was selected for the Essex Development team and played for Kent and London during the recent cricket season. In the Caribbean, Karim has played for the Windward Island Volcanoes and Grenada training squads.
There are huge differences between the English and Caribbean cricket systems and the way the countries play sport, he says. Notably, the investment in English cricket and the structure that provides opportunities and pathways for progression – and, they take winning and losing very seriously. The Caribbean system lacks structure and they are more relaxed in their attitude to playing and winning.
Karim has also noticed a difference between the English and Australian games. He says the Australian Kookaburra ball is softer than the English Dukes ball, known to break many a cricketers’ fingers (it’s not uncommon for players to break multiple fingers each season!), and Karim has first-hand experience (pardon the pun). Because he is used to the humid Caribbean heat reaching the mid-30s, our warm weather hasn’t bothered him, although he is curious how 40+ temperatures will be.
With Christmas approaching, Karim is looking forward to experiencing an Australian Christmas with his host family and knows it will be vastly different to the Christmases he knows. Christmas lunch might include roast turkey, roast potatoes and gravy on a cold, snowy English day, or jerk chicken, rice and peas, and coleslaw at the beach in the Caribbean – and sometimes a combination.
Drives in the bush to see kangaroos and emus is the extent of Karim’s sightseeing, but before he leaves in March, he hopes to have camped in the bush and visited museums and galleries in Melbourne, to add to his self-development.
“I have travelled quite a lot to make sure that I meet new people and learn new experiences. I really want to understand the world and what it is. People view the world in a different light, and that itself helps me create my own scope of what the world is, in my own perspective.”
I asked Karim what challenges he has faced here. Off the back of very good seasons in England and the Caribbean, there is some self-doubt creeping in about his performance, but that is making him more determined to do the best he can for the team and community.
Depending on the situation, he draws inspirational from cricketers Viv Richards and Brian Lara and tennis player Rafael Nadal.
Once the cricket season is over, Karim will head to the Caribbean for some cricket games and to assist his father with work, before returning to his real estate work in London. He has a Masters degree in Economics and International Affairs, but is keen to see the world before settling into ongoing and serious work.
Karim will continue to play in the English and Caribbean systems and see where that leads him, but isn’t driven by specific goals. “In five years’ time, I’d just like to be happy and content with who I am as a person. From there, everything else is an added bonus.”
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 23 November 2023.
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