Rewind six months and Liam O’Connor is waiting for his usual Saturday morning lift to a club Cricket match in Essex for his newly adopted side, Coggeshall Town Cricket Club.

Back in the present day and O’Connor finds himself in the spotlight with some eye-catching performances for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash, Australia’s premier T20 tournament. In the annual New Years’ Eve fixture, O’Connor returned figures of 2-12 including the scalp of Australian international Moises Henriques and being mentioned as a future Australian international alongside Brisbane Heat big hitter Chris Lynn.

Coggeshall stint important for development

Having lived in the local village pub in the Essex countryside whilst playing for Coggeshall, O’Connor is used to living out of a suitcase as the Strikers travel around Australia, and the 23-year-old credited his season in England with helping him mature as a player in order to perform in the Big Bash.

He explained: “I think as a life experience it was great to play in the UK. For my development as a player it was important to play in different conditions and at a different standard.”

Having taken 38 wickets in 16 matches for Coggeshall, with an economy rate under three runs an over, O’Connor outlined his credentials as well as his ability to adapt to different conditions.

Contracted to Western Australia for the domestic season, the leg spinner was advised by head coach Justin Langer to spend the 2016 English summer playing club cricket. O’Connor said: “It is definitely a test of self-motivation playing club cricket abroad as you are not stuck with a strength and conditioning coach yelling at you and motivating you to do your gym work, run and eat well like back at home.

There is definitely a lot of self-discipline required to keep yourself in shape and developing in an environment outside a professional setup knowing that you will be returning to one back home.”

Being in England meant O'Connor embraced the British culture, watching football matches of his adopted English football team Tottenham Hotspur and also spending his spare time sightseeing in London and understanding more about the lifestyle of the 'Poms', whilst all the time preparing himself for the pre-season camp he would be returning to in August.

Concerning his period spent in England, he said: “It reflects well on yourself and your aspirations if you show this discipline and return in good shape. The developments you make in your game work in your favour.”

Far from the quaint countryside surrounding Coggeshall’s ground in rural Essex, walking out in front of crowds of over 40,000, O’Connor has revealed it took some adjusting to playing in such large stadiums with huge crowds.

He said: “I'd be lying if I said it wasn't different. The intensity and atmosphere is unbelievable when walking out in front of a home crowd of 40,000 plus and you are definitely aware that viewers all around the world can see your every move. I think you just have to take a couple of deep breaths, relax and soak it in and enjoy it. Also, ensure you don't do anything too stupid as the cameras are always watching.”

Propelled into stardom

Having taken a sensational catch to remove Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakarra against Hobart Hurricanes, O’Connor has been propelled into the spotlight but won’t let himself get carried away as he remembers just a few short months ago he was playing in front of twenty people in rural Essex.

The wrist spinner said: “I consider myself extremely lucky to have ended up in such a good place, living at the local pub and with a club that was extremely supportive. It's definitely an experience I'm recommending to all aspiring and young cricketers.”

The Strikers have had a disappointing campaign despite the emergence of O’Connor and are in desperate need of a win to try and advance to the next stage of the tournament, having lost to Melbourne Stars on Tuesday evening.