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Playing ball runs in the family

cricket Updated: Aug 30, 2011 01:17 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Hindustan Times
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His father was an Arsenal player and uncle the England cricket captain. Like his father, he tried to be a footballer before the love of cricket consumed him. Dad Steve, now an Arsenal youth coach, would have been delighted to see Joe Gatting play in the Premier League but is equally supportive now that he is following in the footsteps of his uncle.

Joe is a full-time professional and is aiming to emulate uncle Mike Gatting and become the second international cricketer in the family. The batsman gave a glimpse of his ability in Sussex's match against India. The knock of 48 is something he takes a lot of confidence from because it was more than just a practice game with the Indian players taking the game seriously after the Test debacle.

Football passion
Joe is a good football player as well. He played as a striker for four years with professional football side, Brighton & Albion. "When I was younger, I chose football because in cricket you can always come back a bit later in life. That's what I have done," said Joe, who now plays part-time for Whitehawk FC. In earlier days, the demands on a player were different. There were double internationals. Denis Compton was a classic example who was an Arsenal star and top England batsman. Now switching codes is almost unthinkable.

"I have played against a few international sides in Twenty20, but this was against the world champions. It's a good experience. I gained a lot of confidence. Hopefully, the next couple of years will be on a good pitch."

His uncle and dad too played both the sports, though not as gifted as Compton. "My dad played for Middlesex when he was younger. He was offered a contract early in his career by Arsenal so he chose football. My uncle was outstanding in cricket so it made sense that he chose that game and both are happy. Uncle Mike also played football; he was a reserve goalkeeper and centre back."