MOVING from sport to music is not always a transition that comes easily, but former Somerset all-rounder turned reggae artist Omari Banks has a better chance of making a success of it than most.

As the son of legendary Anguillan star Bankie Banx, music has been a lifelong passion for the 34-year-old and one which has only intensified since he retired as a cricketer in 2012.

Speaking exclusively to the County Gazette ahead of the release of his new album ‘Sunlight’, Banks said: “When I was playing cricket I used to travel everywhere with my guitar, but it wasn’t really my plan to go into music after retiring – it was only once I finished that my passion for it grew and I decided to go for it.

“Music has been a huge part of my life and I have spent a lot of time in the UK over the years as a sportsman so it is nice to be able to come back and share something different through my music.

“Music and sport go hand in hand. Every sportsman wants to be a musician and every musician wants to be a sportsman, so it is nice to have had the chance to do both.”

After launching the album with a show in Notting Hill on April 7, Banks is set to perform acoustic gigs and meet fans of his work in venues across the UK and Europe – but as a former professional cricketer, he is no stranger to life on the road.

The upcoming release is Banks’ second album since his change of career, and he admitted to being influenced by a range of figures.

“Of course my Dad had a big impact on my music, but I grew up listening to music of all genres, and I am influenced by everyone from Bob Marley to Bon Jovi, Elton John, Queen and Stevie Wonder.

Despite stating that returning to cricket in a playing or coaching capacity is a ‘no-no’, Banks did reveal that he is still involved in the sport as an ambassador.

“I am still the only person from Anguilla to represent the West Indies, which I am very proud of, and I now try and inspire the next generation of kids from the island to help them try and get to that level,” he said.

“I spent my first couple of years after retirement going into schools in Anguilla to give coaching sessions and assemblies to try and get youngsters involved, and even while I was playing it was part of my role to do that.

“But it got to a stage a couple of years ago where my music became more of a commitment and I had to choose between the two, so I decided to go with music full-time.

“People still love cricket in the West Indies. Defeats are hard to take and when the team is not winning it can be difficult to still get people supporting, but it doesn’t knock our confidence – even when we lose, we still think we’re the best!

“It remains something that brings people together. I was back in Anguilla last week hitting a few balls - they are always happy to welcome me back and it is always nice to go back.”

Banks was a bit-part player during his spell in Taunton, but his time at the County Ground coincided with a successful one for the team and the all-rounder spoke fondly about his time in the West Country.

“I had a great time down in Somerset, the people treated me really well and I enjoyed my time in Taunton,” he said.

“It was an exciting time, as there were great youngsters coming through like Jos Buttler, Max Waller and Craig Kieswetter, who I was sad to see had to retire a couple of years ago.

“Then along with those young guys there were legends like Marcus Trescothick, Andy Caddick and Justin Langer, who were players that I had admired as a kid having grown up watching them on television, so to get the chance to play with those guys was really special.

“Big up to Trescothick and all the gang still down there – they all have an invite to my album launch if they fancy it!”

Omari Banks launches his new album ‘Sunlight’ with a show at the Notting Hill Arts Centre tomorrow (April 7) – click here for more information