Nick Greenwood: How a chance encounter saw New Zealand cricketer play for Jersey

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Nick Greenwood
Nick Greenwood was ICC Challenge League B's top batter with 809 runs in 15 matches, including three centuries

Nick Greenwood's international cricketing career may well have never existed, were it not for a chance conversation at a club game in Lancashire in 2019.

The batter was spending a summer in England from New Zealand provincial side Wellington when talks about his birth island of Jersey led to a few phone calls and an international debut a few weeks later.

"I was at a club and someone there went to university with a guy that played for Jersey and we got chatting," Greenwood explains to BBC Sport over Zoom from Wellington.

"He said 'they've got a cricket team' and I said 'really?' I didn't know much about them, I did a quick Google search and thought it was something I might be interested in and I said to him 'would you mind getting in contact with your mate?'"

A week later Greenwood was having a net session with Jersey head coach Neil MacRae in Manchester and not long after he scored a half-century on his debut as Jersey beat old rivals Guernsey in August 2019.

Since then, the 23-year-old has become a key part of the island's international side.

The Channel Island - a self-governing British crown dependency that is closer to France than Great Britain - punches well above its weight when it comes to cricket.

Despite a population of around 100,000, the associate member of the ICC has reached the final qualifying round for the past two T20 World Cups and progressed to the next round of qualifying for the 2023 50-over World Cup.

Greenwood left Jersey aged two when his family emigrated to the other side of the world, but he has been welcomed into the fold with open arms since being rediscovered - he stays with his team-mates when he is back on the island and is arguably their most experienced player thanks to his time in New Zealand.

"Playing any form of higher cricket is just good for your game naturally, playing against better bowlers more often, you're naturally going to upskill and take your game to that higher level no matter what format of cricket," says Greenwood, who is the only Jersey player playing first-class cricket.

"You can translate that into one-day cricket, T20 cricket, just generally being in a first-class environment can't help but be good for you, being around other players that are playing international cricket or first-class cricket."

'I can see us going to the World Cup'

Nick Greenwood
Greenwood has scored 353 runs in 16 T20 internationals for Jersey

Greenwood's form this year with the bat has been key to Jersey's success.

He has formed a strong opening partnership with Harrison Carlyon as the islanders have gone on to progress to the next stage of qualifying for the 2023 World Cup.

Greenwood's 809 runs in 15 matches, including three centuries, helped Jersey top ICC Challenge League B ahead of sides such as Kenya and Bermuda who have previously qualified for 50-over cricket's biggest tournament.

Meanwhile in Twenty20 cricket Jersey came close to beating Zimbabwe in Bulawayo as the African side went on to qualify for the T20 World Cup - a tournament where they would top their qualifying pool and beat eventual finalists Pakistan in the Super 12 stage.

"I can see us going to the World Cup in the near future," he says.

"Obviously results have to go our way and we have to play well, but I think that a T20 World Cup is something that is realistic.

"With regards to the 50-over stuff, I think it's a bit of a long shot to try and get into that at the moment unless they expand the teams, but I guess being in that League Two and playing ODI cricket is something that's very realistic for us.

"We have the players that are going to do it, and the more players that we have coming through playing cricket in the UK trying to get into the county system, like I know Asa Tribe's trying to do and a few of the other boys, we're only going to get better."

Nick Greenwood
Greenwood was named Wellington's Provincial A Men's Player of the Year for 2020-21

For the time being Greenwood's ambitions lie on both sides of the globe as he forges both an international career around the world for Jersey and a domestic one in New Zealand.

He has batted against players including Matt Henry, Neil Wagner and Colin de Grandhomme in the Plunkett Shield and the Super Smash and counts Black Caps such as Devon Conway and Jimmy Neesham as team-mates at Wellington, one of six New Zealand provincial sides.

"New Zealand's home for me, so playing out here is what I love to do and I'm lucky enough to play for Jersey at the same time," he says.

"At the moment I'm doing summer to summer, so coming over to the UK and playing club cricket and trying to be close to Jersey.

"Trying to play cricket in New Zealand is where I want to play, I've got family here, friends here, playing for Wellington is something I want to do."

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