April 24th 2024

Lincoln Reservist ventures to South Africa in preparation for Inter-Services Twenty20

Back in February, Lance Corporal (LCpl) Jake Benson of 160 (Lincoln) Squadron, Royal Logistics Corps, jetted off to South Africa for a 16-day pre-season cricket tour, honing his skills as a bowler and enjoying the plentiful opportunities for travel, adventure and sporting glory.

After touching down on South African soil, the Army Cricket team started their tour in Stellenbosch. Having spent 5 days there, they were able to play against local teams, explore some of the beautiful mountain ranges and visit the vineyards at Franschoek. The team then moved on to Cape Town on the coast to play against more local teams in the city.

The opposing South African teams were primarily provincial teams, which, according to LCpl Benson, are equivalent to county 2nd teams in the United Kingdom, but they also played lower level, club teams as part of the tour. Overall, the Army Cricket team competed against various high quality players and finished the tour with one win, two draws and three losses. For L/Cpl Benson, the standout game was against Western Province, which is located at the foot of Table Mountain. LCpl Benson, who was the only Reservist on the team, said: “The views were just incredible. The standard of cricket was really high which helped us to push our game further.”

“Personally, the tour for me was quite successful – I bowled really well while we was out there and I was happy with my performances. I’m sure as we progress through the season we’ll be really successful and hopefully defend the Inter-Services Twenty20 title and win back the 50 Over title.”

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For non-cricketers, the 50 Overs title is just the format of the game. Each ‘over’ is 6 balls and the aim is to score as many runs as possible.

For avid cricket supporters, the civilian season kicks off on the 20th April and the military season begins on the 28th April. The Army Cricket team are hoping to defend their Inter-Services T20 title at the Lord’s Cricket Ground on the 16th May. Last year, LCpl Benson took the wicket on the last ball to win the game. He also hit the last ball of their batting innings for 6 runs.

Talking about his tour highlights, LCpl Benson, who is also a member of the Lindum Cricket Club, said: “The whole tour was a highlight really.

“Away from the cricket pitch, it would be Table Mountain. The views from there were just absolutely spectacular.

“The safaris too. We saw four out of ‘the big five’ which is one of the bucket list items I have always wanted to tick off.”

Enjoying every minute in South Africa, the team were also able to go shark cave diving.

LCpl Benson added:  “Anyone that knows me knows that I really don’t like the sea. I don’t like fish, and I don’t like sharks, so I just watched from the safety of the boat.”

Opportunities and benefits of Military sports

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The benefits of Military sports are so rewarding, on a personal and professional level. LCpl Benson described the way in which it brings individuals together, building on their leadership skills and encouraging confidence – these are all skills that can be brought back into the work environment.

He added: “The countless opportunities that there are for service personnel are tremendous.

”Having had the chance to visit places like Norway, Germany, Austria and France for skiing, and Antigua, Corfu and now South Africa for cricket there are always opportunities available if sports is something you want to pursue whilst serving.”

Advice to those who are thinking about joining the Reserves

As a Reservist, LCpl Benson had his own challenges before attesting into the British Army Reserves. Having had a historic medical condition, it could have been something that prevented him from attesting. However through sheer determination and desire to be a Reserve, it pushed him to challenge the process and appeal the decision that would have set him back two years, and fortunately reduced the original two years down to six months.

We asked LCpl Benson for one bit of advice to those who want to join the Reserves that may be undecided. He said: “If you are thinking of joining the Reserves and you’re nervous, head to your local Reserve Centre and try it out. You can come here and try it and from that, you can make a decision on whether it is for you or not for you.”

Want to push outside of your comfort zone? Visit our unit finder page to locate your nearest Reserve unit.

“I’m a bowler who tries to bat a little bit, I enjoy my batting but if you ask anyone, I’ll be the first out there in the morning bowling and the last out there bowling at night.. there was a joke in the team, that I’d literally bowl all day and that is probably correct to be honest”