Gladstone​ Small – Interview

Hi Gladstone! We all know about cricket success, but what are you working on right now?

After 20 years of playing, I retired from professional cricket in 1999. I then worked with the Professional Cricket Association, the PCA, which is the players’ union that looks after all the professional players in terms of health welfare, education and career advice. Becoming a cricket coach wasn’t for me, but I still wanted to stay in the game, so I thought that the next best thing was to stay around the business of the game through the PCA. I was a full-time employee and board member for 10 years, and now I am currently an ambassador representing the PCA at various events involving their business partners and the game sponsors.

I do give some time to charitable causes and in particular Prostate Cancer UK, where I am an ambassador for their Stronger Knowing More campaign, aimed at highlighting the heightened danger to Afro-Caribbean men of contracting the disease.

Who does the PCA mainly focus on?

The PCA acts mainly on behalf of all the current professional cricketers, both male and female, representing the players’ views across a wide range of issues. Of all the supporting services they provide, the Benevolent Fund makes many important contributions to those in real need of assistance.

What made you start playing cricket?

I was born and grew up in Barbados, where cricket is almost akin to religion. My grandad was the person who gave me the love for the game. As a little boy, I was always playing whenever I could; on any spare bit of land, the road, and the beach. The only day I wasn’t allowed to play was Christmas day.

I was 13 and was just getting the run of the island, going to school, playing cricket, having great friends, when my parents who lived here in the UK, dragged me to England on a cold, dreary September day forty odd years ago.

Do you think cricket made the transition easier?

Oh, certainly! Absolutely, if I hadn’t played cricket I would have gone back to Barbados as soon as I could. Playing sport is such a wonderful natural way to make friends and mix socially. I played at the school in Birmingham and I got picked up in the school system at 16, playing in the age group leagues and also old schoolboy’s club side. So when I was offered professional terms I just thought “oh well, this isn’t too bad, as this means I’m going to play more cricket”. That was my motivation then, I just wanted to play cricket. I was very fortunate to have the ability to get to the top of the sport and perform there.

Is it more to keep in touch with the passion and love you felt when you started playing when reaching a certain level of success?

That’s a really good question, I don’t think I have ever been asked that before. You still feel the love, and that’s the key ingredient when you are required to be fully dedicated to whatever you are doing. Absolutely, you never lose the love, but it does get tested as there are pressures and expectations when you are competing at a high level. It’s a different kind of love because you are now playing professionally, so now it’s your job. You are being paid, and if you play poorly or don’t show full commitment, the fans often remind you what’s at stake. There are pressures involved both internally and externally, and you have to learn how to cope with those pressures. You have to keep learning and improving in order to succeed in any high-performance environment.

Does the PCA help those players who are starting to reach that kind of level?

Yes, they are much more in tune with advising and supporting players now than when I started out. When I played for England, the main man was the captain – though we did have a manager and coach, and a physio, but that was it. Now there’s a whole team of backroom input to rely upon that includes bowling, batting, and various fitness specialists, masseurs and nutritionists. When I started, apart from the help from senior players in the team, it was mainly down to your own devices and your own personal ambitions.

Do you feel like the love you have for the sport is more unconditional now when you’re not playing professionally?

I still love the game, and I’m keen to see it grow in popularity. It’s somewhat different now with the shortened formats taking a stronger presence than the more traditional style that I first grew up around. But the skill levels are all very admirable – especially the inventive strokes and outstanding fielding displays.

I don’t like playing it anymore as it hurts like hell. Particularly because I was I fast bowler, and the body wasn’t designed to bowl a cricket ball with all that twisting and jarring. When I meet up with old colleagues, the first thing we talk about is our injuries and the last medics we visited or what medications help best. But hey, if I had the chance I’d do it all over again.

[…]

Home House Magazine, Issue 7, 2017.

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The Gilt Club / Private Fly

At 9am a car picks me up outside of my flat, and in the glowing autumn morning, we set off to Luton Signature Flight Support Terminal. This is not like any other flight terminal, this is a private jet terminal, and it is fabulous. There are no queues to be seen, no crowds or newsagents – only airy spaces, big windows and personal service. After a coffee, it is time to board the plane, and it is absolutely impossible to mount the stairs of a private jet without feeling like a film star.

The purpose of this trip is to visit the stunning Kinross House, just north of Edinburgh. It is part of The Gilt Club – a carefully selected network of luxury properties and assets. By joining, members can swap and exchange what would normally be off-the-radar luxury houses and villas with other members at no cost at all, apart from the joining fee. The network stretches around the world, and as our luck would have it today, we are flown up with PrivateFly for a day-trip to this beautiful castle in Scotland.

And what a day! After the welcome drink, we are escorted to the dining room where a delicious three-course lunch is served, sourced from local ingredients. The rest of the afternoon is then filled with a generous tour of the property, traditional Scottish highland games, and afternoon tea.

Tired from the fresh countryside air, we are driven back to the Edinburgh Signature Support Terminal where the jet awaits to take us back to London. And as I sink my body back into the soft leather seats, I wish – for the first time in my life – that the flight back home would be just a little longer.

Stoke Park Magazine, Issue 8, 2018.

Rigo London

Located in the heart of Parsons Green, the recently opened restaurant Rigo London invites guests on a culinary journey through the south of Europe and beyond.

With one foot in Italy and the other in France, Piemonte-born chef Gonzalo Lucazzara has created a menu mixing influences from all over the world, the result being a seamlessly borderless culinary experience.

The elegant and minimalist interior allows the food to be the centre-point of attention. By locating the preparation kitchen in the very front of the restaurant, guests get to see the chefs in action, creating a very intimate dining experience.

The Signature Tasting Menu, consisting of six courses plus snacks, will cover the full variety of flavours Rigo London has to offer for £78, with an additional wine pairing for £56. There is also a slightly scaled down Sample Prix Fixe Menu starting at £43, giving guests the option of either three or four courses. A recent addition to Rigo London is a spectacular Sunday lunch menu, perfect for weekend indulgence.

The dinner begins with a selection of snacks all very different from each other – from deep-fried rose petals to tripe – but all equally delicious; an intriguing overture to what is to come. The presentation of the food is creative and inspiring, beautifully garnished with edible flower petals which provide splashes of colour to the dishes.

The tomato tart, mixing red, yellow and green tomatoes, placed on top of a silk-smooth Stracciatella cheese and complemented by aromatic verbena extract, tastes exactly as amazing as it looks. Among the other starters is a fresh Belon Oyster served with puntarelle and brine plum.

This being an Italian restaurant, the pasta leaves no-one disappointed. With its carefully selected and distinct flavours, such as Colatura di Alici and natural yeast, it is brilliant in its simplicity.

For the main course, we tried both the Pluma of Cinta Senese, served together with a smooth parsnip purée, scallop and oyster, and the Monkfish with zesty lemon seltz and crisp cucumber and courgettes – both equally delicious.

The wine list is carefully curated by Rigo London’s in-house sommelier and is comprised of hand-picked wines primarily from Italy and France. For the wine connoisseur, there is even a special VIP wine list, consisting of carefully chosen rarities.

The dessert is just as thought through as the rest of the courses, leaving no sweet tooth disappointed. The porcini bûlée combines both conventional and unconventional flavours, and an added hint of salt breaks off the sweetness perfectly.

Deciding on the highlight of the evening, however, is more easily said than done. The menu is flawlessly curated from the pre-dinner snacks to the post-dinner truffles. At Rigo London, nothing is left to chance. From the carefully chosen ingredients to the attentive service; this is a restaurant that truly impresses.