Will Carr was a hard working fast bowler that played six first class and one list a game for Victoria. Will took 25 first class wickets at an average of 20.88 but was hampered by stress fractures in his back throughout his career.
More recently Will’s had success as a coach leading his beloved Berwick Bears to the 2018/19 Cricket Victoria Regional Big Bash title and the 2019/20 DDCA Turf 1 premiership.
Thanks for giving up your time today Will, let’s get started.
Q. What year were you born?
Q. When did you start playing cricket?
At about 9 or 10 for Berwick in the under 12s.
Q. When did you realise you had the potential to go beyond local cricket?
When I was about 15 or 16 playing Berwick 1stXI.
Q. You didn’t come through the traditional pathway system, did you think you’d still be able to play for Victoria when you were 20 or so?
No, I certainly didn’t think I’d get that far, it was just about playing as best I could and seeing how far I could get. It was very competitive and making Premier firsts alone would have been a great achievement.
Q. What advice would you give to a young cricketer that hasn’t come through the traditional pathway system but still has aspirations of playing high level cricket?
Just to keep persisting and keep believing in yourself, always have a goal and keep working towards those goals. There’s not just one way to make it and there’s stories in anything whether it be footy, other sports, business, of people that haven’t reached a successful level the conventional way.
Q. You had a rough introduction into Premier Cricket and soon found yourself back at Berwick, what learning curves did you encounter from your first stint at Dandenong?
When I was 17 or 18 I did pre seasons with Dandenong and Prahran but I got stress fractures. I started playing for Dandenong when I was 19 but I didn’t have confidence in my body, I didn’t feel good physically or mentally so I decided it was best for me to get back to Berwick
Q. What did you do in the 2-3 years back at Berwick that prepared you for your second stint at Dandenong?
Mainly it was just about getting confident and happy again. I needed to find a way to get back to a good state both physically and mentally and I did that at Berwick with a strong network around me where I was comfortable, something I didn’t have at Dandenong. From there, it was just about enjoying my cricket again, playing with no pressure, getting back with my mentor who was captain and coach, Brian ‘chops’ Lambert and finding a way to get back to my best.
Q. You spent the 2001 winter playing local cricket in England, how’d you find that experience?
That was the best six months of my life. I just had to worry about turning up on a Saturday, sometimes Sunday, training a few times a week and everything else was up to me. I’d already been overseas, I was in a sound position financially, I was mature, at the peak of my abilities playing really good cricket. It was organised by Dandenong, they would send players over to England and fortunately I was at a really good club where I fit in well and I loved it.
Q. I believe you had some net sessions at Old Trafford with Bob Simpson in attendance, how’d that opportunity come about and what was it like?
Yes, while I was in England I had the opportunity to train with Lancashire a few times and Bob Simpson was the coach, it was great to get that exposure. At the time Australia was also on an Ashes tour and I had the amazing opportunity to do some training with them and some centre wicket practice, bowling to guys like Steve Waugh and Matthew Hayden who were the best of the best at the time. I also did some net sessions with the Pakistan team.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about the experience of making your first class debut and what that was like?
It was certainly an unexpected call up. I wasn’t a squad member or contracted player or anything. I’d been playing some second XI and performing pretty well. At the time I owned a night club in South Melbourne, Matthew Inness had a broken toe and I was told to be on standby if he didn’t get through his overs in the one day game. Back then they would play a one day game on the Saturday then a first class game Sunday through to Wednesday. Inness got through all his overs on the Saturday and I didn’t hear anything so assumed he was right and I wasn’t playing, I went out and worked at the night club that night and the next day I turned up to the MCG with no expectations of playing. I’d never been there in a playing capacity before and had to find my way through the back gates and to the changerooms. When I got there I was told Inness had failed a fitness test that morning and I had the call up. It was very rushed, there was no formal cap presentation on the field like you see today. I just quickly called my family and told them the news.
Q. What did you find challenging about playing first class cricket?
As you progress through the levels of cricket the next level is always challenging regardless. The same things apply to each level it just gets harder for longer. At one level you have three gun bats and three gun bowlers, then at the next you have four, and then you have five and then you get to first class cricket and everyone’s a star. It just becomes a bigger challenge for longer periods of time. It was also challenging finding my place in a foreign system and as you mentioned earlier I didn’t come through those pathways so I had no real knowledge of how everything worked, I was just kind of thrusted in.
Q. What was your favourite part about playing first class cricket?
Definitely just realizing a childhood dream. You get to walk on grounds you’ve only seen on TV and play with players you’ve only read about or seen on TV. Your just sitting in the changeroom in awe thinking how good it is to be playing with players of this caliber.
Q. You had a very good first class record but only played six games, did injuries get the better of you or was there just strong competition for spots?
Injuries, it was definitely injuries. Don’t get me wrong competition for sports was very strong and it was the start of a very successful era for Victoria, David Hookes was doing a great job coaching and then there was obviously his tragic passing, Greg Shipperd took over and did a great job and they really established Victoria’s successful era. I played the last three games of the 2001/02 season and then three of the first four in 2002/03 before the stress fractures in my back returned. I recovered but then I got them again right before the next season.
Q. In the space of three years you went from being a VCA contracted player to playing local cricket at Berwick, what was the reason for that?
Injuries is the short answer. As I mentioned before I was struggling with stress fractures and it wasn’t working out, Victoria hadn’t offered me a contract again and I just decided to take a break from the game. I didn’t really have any plans or any direction and then Justin Stanton, the then president of Berwick gave me a ring to see what I was doing, how I was going and asked me if I would consider coming back to Berwick. Fortunately I did and was lucky enough to be a part of Turf 1 premiership there in 2005/2006.
Q. Recently, you’ve had some coaching success at Berwick winning the Regional Big Bash, and the Turf 1 premiership, where would you rank these in your career achievements?
Pretty high. Berwick’s a very special place to me and its great to see the personal development of everyone over the season and growing as a group and then being rewarded with the ultimate success. It’s also great to coach and play a part, although everyone plays a part, and give back to the club with that success.
Q. The turf 1 grand final was cancelled due to coronavirus, how’d you find out that you were the premiers and what was that moment like?
We found out on the Tuesday afternoon. On Tuesday morning Cricket Australia made the decision to cancel the Shield season and award NSW the premiership, and they put out the recommendation to all cricket to not progress with their finals. The DDCA had a meeting around lunchtime and the word started coming through from my different contacts that we were going to be awarded the premiership. The players hear things too and communicate between themselves and when I got the official word it was very unprecedented. No one has won a grand final in these circumstances before and the players definitely wanted to play a grand final, obviously you’re not going to get to experience those winning runs or that final wicket but when the total shock passes and you really process the situation it’s a great moment. I called Cheeks (Matt Chasemore), the captain and we were very emotional.
Q. You were playing Premier cricket with Matt Chasemore 20 years ago, now you two are the captain and coach of a Turf 1 premiership, it’s a pretty amazing story, have you kept in touch over the years or was it just a coincidence that you both ended up at Berwick?
No that was a total coincidence. We only played a few games together at Dandenong and he was a youngster coming through. I was about six or seven years older and more established. We’ve caught up once or twice over the years but we just happened to join Berwick in the same year, it certainly wasn’t anything pre-planned and there were no prior discussions between us. It was just kind of a thing where I signed on as coach and found out he was coming on as captain, and likewise for him. He signed on as captain and found out I was the coach.
Will Carr (left) and Matt Chasemore (right) celebrating Berwick's Turf 1 premiership
Q. This season you also took up an assistant coaching role at Casey-South Melbourne, what has that been like?
Well it was more just a bowling coach and working with the fast bowlers than an assistant coach as such. I did a full pre-season with them but during the season it was more just touching base since I had my commitments with Berwick. I really enjoyed it and was good seeing the standard.
Q. You’ve dismissed some very good cricketers, who would you rate as your biggest scalps?
There’s lots of very good first class cricketers, I’d say my best dismissals would be Martin Love, Jamie Cox, Simon Katich, Andrew Symonds and Jimmy Maher
Q. Which batsmen did you find most challenging to bowl to over your career?
That’s a hard one, I’ve played against so many good batsmen. I played a WA team with Langer, Hussey, Martyn, Rogers, Gilchrist. There’s definitely lots of good players, Andrew Symonds can be very destructive. I played against Marcus North when he scored a double hundred, that was a hard day and if you weren’t on top you got punished.
Q. You’ve played with a lot of great cricketers over your career, can you pick an XI of the best players you’ve played with or coached?
Not off the top of my head, no I can’t, there’s just far too many good names and not just at first class level. With all this self-isolation at the moment I’ve seen a lot of people doing this kind of thing and I did have a think about it, like best spinner, best batsman all that but it’s just far too difficult. If I had to give you some names there’s recently Matt Chasemore and Nathan Pilon. Then playing for Victoria you’ve got Matthew Elliott, Shane Warne, Damien Fleming, Brad Hodge, Darren Berry, Nick Jewell, Michael Klinger. As well as Rob Quiney, Graeme Rummans, Tim Hooper. At Dandenong I played with Cameron White and Peter Siddle in their debut games, there’s Darren Pattinson, Josh Marquet, he played first class cricket for Tassie and is the fastest bowler I’ve seen but battled a lot of injuries, and Brain Lambert.
Q. What was it like sharing a dressing room with Warnie?
I didn’t spend much time with him or around him but from what I saw he carries himself just like you would see when he’s commentating or on TV. He’s a very confident, passionate guy.
Q. Looking back on you career is there anything you’d do differently?
I don’t think so, no. Maybe just get a bit fitter and stronger earlier, maybe just work on certain aspects a little bit harder but it’s all hindsight and I got the best out of myself.
Q. What is your proudest moment as a cricketer?
Definitely making my first class debut, I wasn’t that naturally talented or gifted so it was a great achievement and reward for effort and showed that I got the best out of myself.