Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Dubai-born cricketer Jonathan Figy hopes to smash more records when he returns to UK to attend Leeds University

Figy moved to Winchester College in England on a cricket scholarship in 2017 and topped the scoring charts for the school in both seasons

Jonathan Figy is back in the UAE to visit family and friends before he returns to the UK in September to attend Leeds University. Pawan Singh / The National
Jonathan Figy is back in the UAE to visit family and friends before he returns to the UK in September to attend Leeds University. Pawan Singh / The National

Having excelled as a schoolboy cricketer in England, Jonathan Figy now steps up to a bigger stage to play at university level for the 2020 season.

Born in Dubai to Indian parents, the 18-year-old joins Leeds University in September to pursue a degree in Mathematics and Statistics, and continue his journey in cricket.

Figy moved to Winchester College in England on a cricket scholarship in 2017 and topped the scoring charts for the school in both seasons.

The left-handed opener amassed 1,027 runs in his first year and then bettered that by almost 200 in his second year with 1,307 runs.

Both Figy's season scores bested the school's previous highest mark of 1,076, set by Dan Escott in 2015.

Figy also left an indelible mark in finishing his school cricket with back-to-back centuries in the Tonbridge College three-day festival. He thumped 120 against the touring New South Wales Under 18s and 102 against the tournament hosts.

His coach at Winchester College paid tribute to the youngster, whom he first spotted during a match on a visit to Abu Dhabi in February 2016 when Figy scored an unbeaten 140 for Zayed Academy against the visiting English school U17s.

“The best thing for me was his work ethic and desire to improve in all areas and the way he managed to do both this and continue with his studies,” said Paul Gover, who took the young cricket protege under his wing at Winchester.

“The results are there for all to see - fantastic runs and a place at Leeds University.

“From a cricketing perspective, I loved watching him bat, particularly the dynamic shots through the off side, and I will never forget the straight six against the Aussies at Tonbridge.

“I felt his improvement in learning how to bat on English wickets was very evident in this last summer.”

For Figy, England was indeed a learning curve. He took a while to adapt to the conditions but soon established himself as a batsman of immense potential for his school team.

“It was a bit difficult at the start to cope with the different conditions compared to the UAE,” Figy, who is back in the UAE visiting family and friends before returning to England next month to continue his higher education.

“The conditions at most time in England is overcast and a there was always a lot of movement of the ball.”

Jonathan Figy top-scored in each of his two years playing for Winchester College, scoring a combined 2,334 runs. Pawan Singh / The National
Jonathan Figy top-scored in each of his two years playing for Winchester College, scoring a combined 2,334 runs. Pawan Singh / The National

Figy began his cricket at the Zayed Cricket Academy at age nine and then represented the academy, Abu Dhabi Indian School and the UAE Under 19 before moving to England.

Through Gover, Figy said he learnt the importance of technique playing in conditions that are markedly different to wickets in the Emirates.

“In the UAE, the wickets are flat and you can play away from the body but in England you need to play close to yourself,” he said.

“It took a while but I had to make that big adjustment. That was mainly due to my coach with whom I spent a lot of time working on my batting techniques.”

Figy also adopted a new technique on his own after watching the Indian captain Virat Kohli playing against England.

“I started playing outside the crease to meet the ball a bit closer in order to give it the least amount of time before it deviates,” he said. “That was my own after watching Kohli batting in England.”

Figy is hoping he gets a call-up for the Marylebone Cricket Club Universities (MCCU) trials, which he sees as a major stepping stone in his cricket career.

“One has to be really fortunate to make it to the MCCU,” Figy said.

“I hope they call me for a trial when I return to England. It will be a real good platform for me, if selected. If not, obviously I will play for my university team.”

The six MCCU’s are based in Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Leeds, Loughborough and Oxford. The most famous name to have come through the system is the former England captain Andrew Strauss while Monty Panesar, Sam Billings, James Foster, Zafar Ansari and Ireland’s William Porterfield are other alumni.

The MCCUs compete against each other in the MCC Universities Championship, with the top two sides going onto the MCC Universities Challenge Final at Lord’s.

They are also part of the British Universities and Colleges Sport competition – where they play other university sides – and play four-day fixtures against county teams.

Figy’s long-term goal is to play county cricket in England for which he will be eligible as a foreign player after completing the three-year residency rule at the end of next season.

“Those are the plans and I hope I can manage with both my cricket and studies,” he said.

Updated: August 29, 2019 12:31 PM

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