Committed Croft relishing new role
At the culmination of a distinguished professional career spanning 24 seasons, Robert Croft could be forgiven a desire to sit back and soak up past glories.
Anyone familiar with the former England international, however, will not be surprised to learn his enthusiasm for new challenges remains undimmed.
In a lengthy interview with ecb.co.uk, the recently retired Croft discussed a range of topics, yet it was his new role at Glamorgan - one that combines coaching with marketing and ambassadorial responsibilities - that prompted the greatest show of exuberance and passion.
Glamorgan won just eight games across all competitions in 2012 - the last of those triumphs coming largely as a result of seven wickets from Croft against Kent on the final week of the LV= County Championship season - but their 42-year-old former spinner is relishing the task that now awaits him as part of Matthew Mott’s backroom team.
“I think what’s exciting me more than anything is where we are as a team right now,” Croft, a County Championship winner in 1997, explained.
“With respect, we can’t be a lot worse and I mean that as a positive.
“The adrenaline rush and the spirit you’ll get from seeing players turn it around and move forward really is appealing. If you can be part of a ship moving forward and upwards then that’s a good place to be.”
In addition to his new duties at the SWALEC Stadium, Croft will continue his broadcasting work for Sky Sports.
“I do really enjoy the work with Sky,” he added.
“Cricket is what I have more experience in than anything else in my life. Coaching and working with Sky gives me the opportunity to still be involved in the game.
“To still get that rush, particularly when you’ve coached somebody to do something and they get success from it - it’s the next best thing you can get to playing yourself.”
Croft’s fine performance against Kent last month ensured a playing career that featured 21 Test and 50 ODI caps ended on a suitably high note.
A tally of 1,175 first-class wickets, in addition to more than 20,000 runs in all formats, marks Croft as a true Glamorgan great, yet the significance of his farewell appearance, in which he returned first-innings figures of 5-31, cannot be underestimated.
“It was important and it was actually easier to finish on that performance, easier to hang the boots up and say ‘thanks, that was alright’,” he revealed.
“It’s quite nice to leave people knowing what you can do rather than thinking about what you couldn’t do.”
The longevity of Croft’s career also represents an understandable source of pride, yet he retains a modest outlook on his ability to remain competitive across four decades.
“I think I was lucky because I never really picked up a lot of injuries and the skill that I performed within the game helps you to play for a lot longer,” he said.
“My practice also helped, because I always practiced my skills a hell of a lot, so they never dropped off even when my fitness did go slightly.
“Then there’s the ambition I guess, and that drive and desire from within - if you put them all together you’ve got a good chance of playing for a long time.”
Asked if he had ever considered a move away from Glamorgan, an unequivocal Croft replied: “Along the way I was lucky enough to have opportunities to move, but I felt I couldn’t play anywhere else.
“I listened to what people said when they came and spoke to me, but was I ever tempted? No I wasn’t.
“I always felt I was being treated very well at Glamorgan. We were in a successful team; we were part of winning sides and I was lucky enough also to be representing England, so most of my boxes were being ticked anyway.
“When I played my first game I was just thankful that I was a name that had represented Glamorgan, for however long it would be. Luckily for me, it went on, it went on and it went even further. It was terrific.”
The same word could easily be applied to one of Welsh cricket’s most popular sons.