From data centre installs to Nuts the Squirrel
Running around a cricket pitch dressed as a squirrel in front of 25,000 spectators is a far cry from day-to-day life as an IT consultant, and for many of us it probably sounds like the stuff of nightmares. But for our very own technical director Darren Wilders, it became a reality as he stepped into the role of “Nuts the Squirrel” – all in the name of the “bout of glorious silliness” that is the annual T20 Blast Mascot Race!
If you’re a cricket fan and follower of the T20 Blast competition, you might have spotted Darren being interviewed by The Cricketer, which describes the fun-filled Finals Day Mascot Race as “a peculiar cocktail mixing the Grand National, Takeshi’s Castle and Tom & Jerry”. Or as Darren puts it, “very similar to sport – but not.”
“My tail got stuck under a net and no one was there to help, so eventually I cleared myself, but the others were already finishing,” Darren remembers. “I didn’t come last though.” That’s quite an achievement given that he’d only done three weeks of treadmill training for the event beforehand.
Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club is a client of ours here at deeserve, and the club “thought he was joking, but he was deadly serious when he piped up in the club office” to put himself forward for the race. You could say that Darren’s transformation to Nuts the Squirrel – in front of not just 25,000 spectators but also a large number of Sky TV cameras – really was taking client relationship building to the next level!
Darren took the race as seriously as he takes his IT work for us, saying: “You are representing your county and you’ve got everyone behind you. You do want to win it.” And prior to the race, he even found himself featured in the social media build-up when he donned his squirrel costume and did some laps of the pitch for some promotional photos.
This strange experience was made even more bizarre by the anonymity of it all. As Darren says in his interview, “No one knows it’s you: you’re Nuts, effectively. It’s quite a surreal experience really because people are talking on Twitter afterwards about Nuts losing the mascot race, and that’s me! You are aware that everyone’s watching, which adds to the pressure, but you’re so focused on getting round the circuit.”
Of course, there’s a serious side to the silliness, with the race helping to raise funds for worthy charities. This year, the race was in aid of the Professional Cricketers’ Fund, which assists cricketers in areas such as mental health treatment, specialist medical treatment and hardship support.
Asked by The Cricketer whether he’d do it all again, Darren’s reply was a resounding “Absolutely.” So look out for this squirrel coming to a cricket pitch near you – or give us a call on 01509 80 85 86 if you’re more interested in our IT services!
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