North London Cricket Club benefit from fallout of South Africa quota system

Jordan Gregory took five wickets for North London in their nail-biting win over South Hampstead

Jordan Gregory took five wickets for North London in their nail-biting win over South Hampstead - Credit: Max Flego

All-rounder Jordan Gregory has an additional incentive to try to steer North London into a promotion place over the coming weeks.

The 21-year-old has made significant contributions with bat and ball in his debut season at the Crouch End club, helping to usher them into the upper echelons of Middlesex County League Division Three.

And the talented left-arm spinner hopes that success with North London can also help him to realise his ambition of forging a professional career in cricket.

Gregory, who grew up in Durban, South Africa, and represented his provincial Under-17 team, moved to the UK after concluding that there would be greater opportunities here for him to achieve that aim.

Cricket South Africa regulations, which were established during the post-apartheid era, entail having at least six players ‘of colour’ in a team, in an attempt to right the wrongs of the country’s past suppressions.

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“The quota system has a lot of positives,” said Gregory. “Some people who might not have the opportunity get scouted, and cricket has a way of levelling people from different backgrounds.

“I was born a ‘born-free’ (those born after the apartheid era) and was taught to see people for who they are and not what colour skin they have.

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“Today many born-frees – be it in sport or day-to-day living – are affected by a system they were never involved in, and one which controversially plagues South African sport.

“It’s definitely not impossible to make it as a professional cricketer, it just means one has to work that much harder to compete for fewer places.

“In the UK there’s more opportunity than in South Africa and for me, the aim is to get a contract to play county cricket.”

Gregory, who grew up idolising South Africa’s star fielder and batsman Jonty Rhodes, was privately educated at Kearsney College, where he now helps another former international, Jon Kent, to run his High Performance Academy.

He was selected for KwaZulu Natal at Under-17 level but, after finding himself unable to gain a place in the Under-19 team, Gregory spent a summer playing club cricket in Devon.

Now, as well as studying organisational and research psychology through correspondence, he has been busy familiarising himself with the wicket at North London and helping out around the club in general.

“I work on the ground quite a bit so that’s helped me get a feel for the wickets, and now that the sun’s come out they’re playing very nicely,” added Gregory.

“I’d say I’m more of a bowler but I’ve gained a lot more confidence in my batting since I’ve been here because I’ve worked at it. Technically it’s changed a lot.

“North London feels quite secluded in a way, but it’s the players and the people around the club that make it so good – and we probably have the best food in the league as well!

“If you’re in the top five or six midway through the season, the chance is there for any team to get promoted. There’s some tough opposition, but we’ll be definitely pushing towards that.”

North London’s shirts this season bear the logo of Bowling Aids out of Africa, a project run by the Cricket Without Boundaries charity to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS.

The scheme is run by club coach Greg Mackett, who spent last winter in Rwanda, running cricket sessions and helping to educate underprivileged youngsters in AIDS prevention.

“There should be more initiatives like this, to give young people the right opportunities and teach them about cricket, to allow them to play and let cricket be good to them, as cricket has been so good to me,” said Gregory.

“If people are given the opportunity, not necessarily to represent their provincial team but to come and play for a club abroad, cricket can open more doors for them too.”

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