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Sam the man . . . North Otago cricket coach Sam Bastin runs a junior session at Centennial Park. PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS

Sam Bastin has big plans – which is most unlike him.

The popular young Englishman is cock-a-hoop after being appointed to a boosted Otago Cricket Association community development officer role in North Otago.

After a restructure of the community development arm of North Otago cricket, the part-time winter role of development officer, held by long-serving coach and umpire Derek Walker, was disestablished.

Bastin (22), who was preparing to head back to England after completing his second summer as a player and coach for the Union club and North Otago, sort of stumbled into the role.

“This opportunity came out of nowhere. I was ready to go home,” he told the Oamaru Mail

“I don’t really plan where I’m going to end up. I’m not really one to go ‘right, I want to do this or I want to do that’. Things have just followed their natural course.

“For someone of my age to get a job like this .. I’m lucky, and it’s the perfect place for a youngster.”

Bastin will be contracted to Otago cricket on a three-year deal, but will still work in closely with North Otago supremo Peter Cameron.

“There’s a level of respect there. I won’t just go and do things without him being involved – there’s no point in that.

“So my working relationship with Peter won’t change.”

Bastin’s general aim is to boost participation in the sport, and to help coaches and volunteers upskill and look after players.

He is buried in paperwork at the moment but looks forward to “hitting schools” with a vengeance in the third term.

“I’d really like primary school cricket to grow, and take some pressure off the clubs.

“The more kids we have playing, the more we’ll have coming through and enjoying the game.”

He will also be at the forefront of bedding in New Zealand Cricket changes at junior level around how the game is actually played.

The development and promotion of girls’ cricket will continue to be a major focus.

Bastin has embraced the North Otago lifestyle and become a popular figure in the cricket community, and he looks forward to extending his stay.

“Working in a small area has more pros than cons. People have really bought into what I’m trying to do, and I’ve had really good support from parents and players.

“I just enjoy the close-knit feel of the place.”

His parents, Sandra and Pete, will come to New Zealand early next year for a visit.

Bastin had a cracking summer with the bat for Union and will continue to play at club level, but most of his energies will be poured into coaching and development.

never been a massive aspiration for me.

“I just enjoy playing on a Saturday, and the social side of it, and helping make people better as a coach, rather than worrying about my own game.”

Bastin paid tribute to Walker, whose lengthy service to cricket in the wider region includes a long playing career for Otago, coaching, development and umpiring.

“They are big shoes to fill.

“Derek has been doing it a long time, and there’s a legacy there to follow. I hope I can give it a good go.”

North Otago will still contract its own coaching staff – local fans have their fingers crossed it will again be Francois Mostert – to complement Bastin.