Northamptonshire all rounder Steven Crook is one of the winners of this year’s Professional Cricketers’ Association Personal Development Scholarships. The scholarships were introduced by the PCA in 2013 to find and reward the most proactive members, past and present, on or off the pitch, in the area of Personal Development. Crook and Yorkshire’s County Championship-winning captain Andrew Gale were the winners in the Current Players category, Warwickshire pair Richard Jones and Jonathon Webb took the prizes in the Newcomers category and former England paceman Amjad Khan Khan and former Worcestershire spinner Shaaiq Choudhry won the Past Player Progression Personal Development Awards. All six will receive £1,000 towards Personal Development course funding, resources of their choice or to reimburse costs already incurred.

Crook presented a wide-ranging CV to the judging panel which included sitting on the board of Northants Recreational Cricket and establishing his own company Mau Media whose clients include Cricket United, Hyundai and Seat. Having spent a year out of cricket in 2010, Crook appreciates the importance of Personal Development. “Personal Development is very important. It’s something that all players should be doing. Having something going on outside the game takes my mind off cricket,” he said. “When I come in and train and play I am fresh. I come in with a clear mind. I don’t tend to over-complicate things too much. It’s nice to have something to fall back on. I run a business so it’s really important for me to do a couple of hours work before and after training and playing. I get up early and do various bits and pieces before I go to the ground. When I do go in to training I am going there and just enjoying being a cricketer. I don’t put too much pressure in myself because I know I have something to fall back on. I can go and play cricket for the love of it.”

Crook was delighted to win a PCA Scholarship having failed to make the shortlist 12 months ago. “The reason why I keep applying is that it’s an opportunity to test my skills in front of a panel, to come up with an idea, think about it logically and then deliver the idea. Being able to do that is a good skill. I didn’t get through last year and I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to come and present because I recognise that it is an area that I can get better in. I do as much as I can anyway in terms of getting out and presenting but when you have four senior blokes looking at you, you are pretty nervous. It is testing your skills and in the business world which is what I am going to have to do when I have finished playing. With Mau Media we are presenting ideas all the time if I can get used to delivering ideas it is good for my development. It’s really important. It’s as important as anything we do. It’s investing in your future. We invest money into a pension, with Personal Development you are investing skills into your future so that when you finish playing you can say: I have got all these skills. I have stood up and presented to people, I have talked to sponsors, I have introduced a sponsor to the club or gone and done work experience. They are all things you can look back on at the end of your career. You have got a good base of skills that are transferable.”

Ian Thomas, the former Glamorgan batsman who now leads the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme, said: “The PCA Personal development Scholarship Awards have become an annual event in the calendar. With over 20 applications, we had a tough job shortlisting and we thank all members for their applications.  Over 80% of players are now engaged in a Personal Development plan. These awards highlight the winners as ambassadors and will hopefully inspire others to take similar paths.  The day provides the shortlisted candidate with the task to present on a set challenge and go through a rigorous interview process.  Many congratulations to all six on their awards. We look forward to more players applying in the future.”   The next PCA Personal Development Scholarship Awards application process will open in  August 2016.