Interview with New Zealand's next potential leg-spinning superstar Blake Coburn
Blake Coburn is currently far from a household name in World Cricket. Even in New Zealand, he is not all that well known outside of his home region of Canterbury. All that has the potential to change, however.
Coburn created a murmur around Australia and New Zealand early last summer with his match-winning performance in a First-Class game for Canterbury vs Northern Districts. Coburn grabbed figures of 7-64 in the second innings to help Canterbury to a nail-biting 8 run win over the Northern Knights. Whilst these figures are outstanding for a 21-year-old in just his second First-Class match, they are not the reason Coburn created headlines. Coburn is one of perhaps the rarest breed of cricketers, a left-arm chinaman bowler. Other than Paul Adams and cult hero Brad Hogg, successful left-arm chinaman bowlers are extremely rare in professional cricket. Adding to Coburn’s mystery is his rather unorthodox bowling action. Nasser Hussain’s ‘Frog in a Blender’ description of Paul Adams would not be out of place when describing Coburn. With his arms and legs all over the place and his head looking at the ground it’s amazing to see how consistent Coburn is with his bowling. He generates good revs on the ball and has a very hard to pick wrong’un in his repertoire (believe me). I was lucky enough to sit down with Blake and get the chance to get his thoughts on his career so far, and goals for the future having just been offered his first full-time professional contract.
‘It’s a dream come true’ said Blake when I asked him what life’s been like since picking up his first contract with Canterbury. ‘I got a taste of first-class cricket last year, so to have the opportunity to build on those performances this year through having a contract is brilliant really.
I asked Blake how the feeling was when you sat down in the changing room after taking 7-64 to win the match for Canterbury last year? “It was a surreal feeling and actually took a long time to sink in. It’s always been a dream of mine to win a game for Canterbury, so to do it in just my second game was a bit of a shock and not something I expected but is something I will never forget and will cherish for a long time”.
“It’s no secret your bowling method is a little unorthodox, growing up what made you stick to your action when many coaches would have tried to change it”? “I’m pretty stubborn” joked Coburn. “I always felt comfortable bowling how I do now and given how much of a mental game cricket is it felt crazy to try to change an action that I felt comfortable with”.
“Given your bowling style, you have already received a few comparisons to Brad Hogg, was he an idol for you growing up”? “Yeah from my early high school days onwards he was a pretty big influence, despite not knowing him personally. Seeing him deceiving batsman the way he could do certainly did give me belief and motivation to persist with my bowling through the tough times when I felt like I couldn’t land a remote-control airplane, let alone a cricket ball”.
“Paul Adams was also someone I looked up to. His bowling action was unorthodox like mine so between the two of them they were who I looked up to”.
“Now Blake you have started to make a name for yourself the last year or so. What are your goals for the next couple of years or so as you try and get that International debut for New Zealand?"
“I think contributing to some title-winning campaigns for Canterbury is at the top of the list,” said Coburn. “If I produce solid performances in First-Class cricket that could potentially lead to other opportunities down the line, but those are out of my control at this stage”.
“Is there anything off the field that has made a difference to your performances?" “Yeah, there are a couple of things. Firstly, the support of my parents has always been amazing. Without their help, I would not be where I am today. I also have the support of a great bunch of friends as well. My very special friend Amy from Cardiff along with the other cricket lads have been a big part of helping me get to where I am today”.
Having sat down with Blake, I have come away having learned a few things about the man they call the ‘flog in a bender’. The first is that Blake is hard working and has the work ethic to make it as an International Cricketer. The second is that Blake has a great support network around him that will always help him try to achieve his goals. If things go the way they are supposed to, by the end of the summer Blake will have greatly improved his First-Class bowling average of 31.60 and added to his tally of 15 First -Class wickets. With the ability, Blake possesses the sky is the limit for this young New Zealand cricketer.