Meet the scholar: Sammy King

Alongside studying within the Faculty of Science at the University of Nottingham, scholar Sammy King has been making large strides in his sporting career.

Before returning to the university for another year of study, King achieved a landmark moment by playing in the England cricket team at last summer's Test Match against New Zealand at Trent Bridge. What's more, he also signed a new contract at Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. Howzat for a busy summer?

We caught up with Sammy to discuss this brilliant achievement, as well as find out more about his sporting and academic story so far.

Sammy King at David Ross

It's a pleasure to meet you Sammy. How did you get into your sport of cricket?

I started playing through school actually. I played golf initially with my Grandad and I wasn’t a massive cricket fan to begin with. However, once I started playing cricket with my family and began to have a few games where I would hit the ball quite hard and for six, I realised I wasn’t that bad at the sport so began playing more seriously for school. I then moved into the sub-county level at under 13’s and then the full county side at under 14’s. I continued to grow and get stronger which saw my bowling get quicker, adding that side to my game, and I was hitting the ball harder too. Subsequently I joined the academy at Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club when I was 16 years old and continued I am now a second year professional at the club this year.


So in terms of position – do you see yourself as an all-rounder now?

I’d say that I am a batting all-rounder. I love batting and hitting the ball really hard to be honest. I do like bowling as well, but there’s just something about hitting a big six or four that I really enjoy, so I’d say I’ve always been predominantly a batter. However, because of my height I’ve done a bit of bowling too.


What do you really enjoy about the sport?

I think it’s the fact that it’s a team sport, but one that as an individual you can dominate a game. I don’t think in football or rugby, one player can have as much impact or influence as an individual can in cricket. In cricket, you can decide a game and I don’t think there’s a better feeling than being the one to get your team over the line with either a run chase or a final death over.


When did you start to realise your talent and see yourself playing the sport at a high level?

I think it was one of the first years that I was in the academy at around the age of 17 because it was there that I first got a taste of the professional game and what being involved at that level is like. There was quite a lot of contact with the first team and I could see that even though I clearly had a lot of work to do, I didn’t feel out of place and realised I could get to that level.


When did you start thinking about combining your career with studying at the University of Nottingham?

I’ve always wanted to go to university and being from Nottinghamshire and playing for the county, it was always a natural fit to study here too. I therefore obviously knew about the university and the unbelievable facilities here that help me so much. I quite enjoyed studying geography at school and so naturally I was drawn to Natural Sciences as a degree. It’s worked out well so far because all of the connections between the sport scholar staff and my academic tutors have really helped me achieve in both areas. With personal tutors and lifestyle meetings, it’s great to have people helping to keep everything on track and I am really thankful for them.

Without the donors, many people wouldn’t have the opportunities they get in their sport.

It sounds like an incredible experience. After getting a taste of that, what are your short term and long term goals going forward?

Well I obviously want to just keep moving forward with my degree and continue working towards achieving highly within that. In the short term with my cricket, I really want to cement my position at Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and become a regular name on the team sheet.

Hopefully I can also continue working well with my coaches and take advantage of opportunities to have different experiences abroad. Then further along my long term goals are to play for England and also play in major franchise tournaments around the world.


I imagine that with your achievements so far that you are a large figure within the cricket club here at the university, what has that experience been like?

I absolutely love coming down and helping the club. Being able to be at nets sessions and pass on my experience is really good. I think people get a feeling of what it’s like to be a professional and see how I train, and I think that they hopefully can take bits from that, and that’s something I get enjoyment from too.


Alongside the cricket club, you are also part of our group of scholar athletes at the University Of Nottingham – how has it been to be a part of that group?

I think it’s brilliant. The friends that you can make as a part of the group I think can be really beneficial both now and in the future. You can share experiences and being around the same facilities and opportunities is really helpful in growing as an athlete.

Having the scholarship has allowed me to balance the university and cricket lifestyle by doing university part-time . The funding has been spent on travel, supplements and cricket gear. As well as extra training classes such a group pilates. Without the donors, many people wouldn’t have the opportunities they get in their sport.


Having been a student here for a while now, what would you say to people who are thinking about combining their studies with sport at the University of Nottingham?

I think it’s definitely a university that people should strongly consider and I would hugely recommend attending an open day. I came to one here and had a look around the David Ross Sports Village, you realise the scale of the sport and fitness offer here. It’s clear the university are really trying to progress university sport and that goes alongside great academics.

A huge congratulations to Sammy on his achievements. We will be keeping a keen eye on his continued progress with Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and the England national set-up.

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