A stalwart of the Geelong-based St Peter’s Cricket Club, Illingworth said after originally declining an offer, he decided now was the right time to make the shift.
The highly-regarded opening batter replaces friend and former team mate Frank Mileto, who, with the imminent birth of his first child, has stepped aside from the coaching role.
“I’ve been playing with St Peter since I was around 14 years old and I’m 31 now, so more than half my life,” he said. “Coming to Queenscliff got mentioned a few years back and I put a line through it pretty quickly because I was content where I was at St Peters, then after winning a premiership… the idea of making the shift became a bit more attractive and it was seemed like too good an opportunity.
“The decision goes back to Frank, that’s where the tie lies. He played at St Peters a few years back and we’ve stayed in contact ever since. He’ll probably tell you that he’s only been trying to get me for a couple of years, I’d say it goes back a bit further than that.”
Queenscliff finished on top of the ladder at the end of last season, but were knocked out in the first final.
Despite never having held a coaching position, Illingworth said he was looking forward to working with the young squad and hopefully taking the side one step further.
“I’m excited and a little bit nervous… I think the coaching part will come pretty naturally and whilst I haven’t done it in the sporting sense, I feel pretty comfortable in front of a group of people and definitely in a sporting environment I feel comfortable working with people in any capacity really so I’m looking forward to working with a young group that wants to learn.
“I keep a pretty good overview of all cricket in Geelong and that include the Bellarine and I’ve followed Queenscliff for a number of years now and generally see the same names popping up year after year, which tells me the retention of players here at Queenscliff is pretty good and that tells me a lot about the club,” Illingworth said.
“I know that it’s a young group and I know that it’s guys that have generally played a lot of cricket here … I want to try to get the best out of those guys.”