By Louis Cameron*
Burt Cockley has endured his fair share of injuries over his first-class cricket career and is putting his extensive experience in strength and conditioning and injury rehabilitation into his new business ‘Cockley Performance Systems’.
Despite taking 44 wickets in 14 first-class games with New South Wales and Western Australia, Cockley was not offered a contract for the coming season. Although he hasn’t given up hope of playing at domestic level again, Cockley’s new business represents a new stage in his life.
“It’d been in the back of my mind for a few years,” Cockley told the ACA.
“Coming off contract last season gave me the perfect opportunity to start (the business) up.
“I’d always been interested in health and fitness, strength and conditioning and the performance side of sport.
“I just really enjoy working out how to help others to unlock their potential. I feel like I can help others from my experiences in cricket.”
Cockley burst on to the Australian cricket scene in 2008-09, taking 27 wickets at 22.19 to be NSW’s leading Sheffield Shield wicket-taker for the season.
He was rewarded with an IPL contract with Kings XI Punjab soon after and was called up to the Australian One-Day squad in India in November 2009.
“I left Newcastle at the age of 21,” Cockley said.
“Although I had dreams and ambitions, I didn’t really expect a whole lot. I just wanted to give it a crack and see what happened.
“I only had one full season with NSW and it all just took off for me. It all happened really quickly and it was hard at the time to really reflect on what was happening. I was very raw.”
However, stress-fractures in his back followed by a serious knee injury and a number of other setbacks curtailed his rapid rise and kept the Newcastle-born fast-bowler off the playing field for an extended period of time.
“I was out of the game for nearly three years. Your job is to play cricket and you can’t play. Going through that was really tough – it made me grow up really quickly.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. It was the lowest point of my life when I blew my knee out. I’d had a bulging disc, stress fractures, two side-strains - and it was all just after I’d been called into the Australian One-Day side.
“I went from being on a massive high to a huge low. Mentally, I’d never experienced anything tougher. I thought many times about giving the game away.”
He stuck with cricket and in 2013, Cockley was given another opportunity with Western Australia, where he played three Sheffield Shield games and two One-Day matches before injuring his knee again in a tour match against England early last season.
Regardless of whether he plays at first-class level again, Cockley says that he is proud of his playing career.
“My knee injury would have been career-ending for a lot of people but I worked my backside off to get back to playing and I’m really proud that I was able to do that.
“When I first came back from it, I didn’t expect to be able to bowl at the same velocity as I had when I first played for NSW. But I still have the goal of getting back to the same speed that I was bowling at then.
“I’m still training and am getting stuck into my off-season program at the moment. I’m still going to push to play at my highest level – if I get picked to play at first-class level, that’d be great but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world.”
Despite the numerous setbacks that he’s faced, Cockley is positive about how his experiences with injury have shaped his attitude to life.
“Throughout my career I’ve had a lot of injuries and have to do a lot of rehab.
“If it wasn’t for the injuries that I had, I would have never opened up my own business and I definitely would never have gone to university.
“If it wasn’t for those experiences, I wouldn’t be heading down the path that I am now.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunities that cricket has given to me.”
Burt has been supported by the ACA in via Education Grants, access to coaching accreditation courses and through the ‘Business Builders’ mentoring program run by Brett Stringer.
Combining with the ACA to manage his transition has been a key focus.
To find out more about Burt’s new business, ‘Cockley Performance Systems’, check out his flyer here .
*Louis Cameron is a Rookie listed player with the Victorian Bushrangers. He is completing a work placement at the ACA through the Beyond the Boundary program and as part of his Masters of Communication course at RMIT University.