Rikki Clarke and his love of Labradors

Happy Dogs

This month, cricketer Rikki Clarke takes time out to discuss lives, loves and new challenges.

“I’ve got to be honest…it does feel a little bit strange,” says Rikki Clarke, who won’t be playing professional cricket this season for the first time in 20 years. Rikki’s been one of the greatest county players of the last generation, decorating a career with England caps, but decided to call it a day with Surrey at the end of last season.

Two dogs

“To be honest, I’ve not missed it as much as I thought I would. When I first started, pre-season would begin on 1st April, but now they start in mid-November, so my body wasn’t getting any rest at all.

“I had a shoulder operation in December, so I’m just getting back into it with a local club, Shrewton, and had my first bowl on Sunday. Wow, I’m suffering now!”

Rikki has since taken up a role as Head of Cricket at the King Edward’s School Witley, and runs his own Rikki Clarke Cricket Academy which is packed out during the school holidays.

“I absolutely love it, and in fairness it’s not only cricket, but football, basketball and most games with the kids, but obviously the cricket remains the priority. I’m lucky enough to be working with young boys and girls who’re in the Surrey and Hampshire cricket pathways, so we have some really talented players, and I love being able to pass on my knowledge and coach.”

Retiring from cricket has given Rikki more time to spend with his family and pets, and dogs in particular, have always been a huge part of his life.

dogs in lounge

“I grew up with dogs all the time, black Labradors always and my wife Harriett also came from a dog loving family, so we got Jasper, a black lab. Sadly, he died at the age of 9 from bone cancer and we were all absolutely devastated. We have two children Max and Ella and we all agreed straight away to get another dog as it just doesn’t feel right without one.”

In 2015, Rikki bought Bonnie, a chocolate Labrador, but the pressure began to grow to get another.

“A neighbour of ours had a litter of black lab puppies and Harriett was on to me to get one…. but I kept saying “no, no, no”. I don’t know why but, in the end, I just thought why not, but wanted it to be a surprise, so kept things quiet until I was able to go and pick one up.

“To be fair it was amazing when I carried the puppy back into the house. My daughter Ella just burst into tears and when Harriett saw him, she burst into tears too. I’m an old softy but got loads of brownie points for that! We’ve named the pup Milo.”

Rikki’s a long-suffering Spurs fan and they have a horse called Ozzie, which he says is named after Spurs legend Ossie Ardiles, but was really named Ossie before they got him.

dogs in kitchen

“It’s more an Ella and Harriett thing to be honest, as horses can sense my wariness and react accordingly. They hack and go cross country and I’m happy to watch from afar.”

It’s a brand new chapter for Rikki Clarke, moving from playing to coaching, and enjoying life like never before.

“Obviously pets aren’t for everyone,” he says, “but I can’t ever imagine a life without them“.

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