Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 7 July 2020

Jonathan Figy: Cricket and studies on hold as UAE batsman focuses on fitness while stuck in UK

Top-order batsman hopes to join national team as soon as he pursues his studies in UK amid lockdown

UAE cricketer Jonathan Figy had it all planned out. He was scheduled to debut for Leeds University in an inter-university tournament and then play as a foreign professional for Rastrick Cricket Club in the Huddersfield Division 1 league in the UK.

But both opportunities have been put on hold following the coronavirus outbreak.

Figy, 19, is now making the most of the lockdown in Britain by improving his fitness through high intensity training indoors.

“The inter-university tournament was cancelled and all other cricket activities are on hold,” the left-handed batsman told The National.

“Obviously it’s very disappointing not to be playing cricket when the weather in this part of the world right now is beautiful for the sport.”

Figy, born in Dubai to Indian parents, moved to Winchester College in England on a cricket scholarship in 2017. He joined Leeds University last September to pursue a degree in mathematics and statistics.

Figy made his debut for the UAE senior team against Scotland in the ICC World Cricket League 2 in Dubai in December and played against Namibia in the same competition in Oman in January.

He next played in the U19 World Cup in South Africa and became the first UAE player to score a century in the competition when he hit 102 not out against Canada.

Figy then returned to the UK to continue his studies and was given a training schedule to maintain his fitness levels.

I haven’t touched a cricket bat for more than two months

Jonathan Figy

“I have been doing it since the lockdown in March but when the university closed down, I moved to where my aunt and uncle reside, which is a 30 minute drive from the university," Figy said.

“I do my training with my cousin, focusing a lot on core work because I felt that’s one of my weak areas. I do high intensity exercises to strengthen my core muscles and cardio.

“I moved to my uncle’s place but left my cricket gear behind at the university and am unable to get them back because of the lockdown.

“I haven’t touched a cricket bat for more than two months, perhaps the longest period of time that I haven’t touched it."

Former UAE coach Dougie Brown provided Figy the opportunity to play for the senior team. Brown was replaced in February, by Robin Singh, meaning Figy must prove himself all over again.

“The new technical staff haven’t seen me and they want to see me at some point,” Figy said. “I was to travel to the UAE during the Easter holidays in March but I couldn’t because the airports were shut by then.

“I am hoping to travel at the first opportunity to be with my parents in Abu Dhabi and meet the new technical staff."

Britain has been one of the countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus with more than 215,000 cases and over 31,000 deaths. Uncertainty has made it difficult for Figy to plan for the future.

“Officially we are still in lockdown,” Figy said. “There may be an announcement soon on easing and then I’ll take it from there. I have no problems where I live in Leeds.

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. Pawan Singh / The National

“Probably I’ll come over when the airports are open and my family is also waiting to see me. I will see how safe it is to fly. So fingers crossed on that.”

As far as his studies are concerned, Figy's university has cancelled the remaining semester and he will progress to the second year starting in October.

“I study on my own and will now prepare for my second year,” he said. “So that’s what I’m doing now aside from the training.

“With regards to cricket, there is not much I can do. All I can do is to keep physically fit and mentally prepared to play some cricket in the next month or two, hopefully.

“I was in talks with a club in Huddersfield. They were to give me a contract as a foreign player when the outbreak put everything on hold. They wanted an opener and I fitted in well.”

If cricket resumes in June or July, or even August to September, Figy said he would stay back to play some cricket in the UK, unless the Emirates Cricket Board asks him to come to the UAE and train with the team.

“I am free until October so I wouldn’t mind to go anywhere to play cricket during that time,” he said.

“But I don’t have any idea. The UAE’s tour to Papua New Guinea was supposed to take place in June and that too got postponed. Only time will tell what’s next for me.”

Updated: May 11, 2020 08:39 PM

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