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Important update: Do not reply to Monica Weah. Find out more.
I'm a cricket coach and over the years I have developed our districts sides from U11, U13, U15 due to my work role at the formerly named Sports Coach UK I've increasingly questioned the structure of representative sides at U10 upwards in the county structure.
There is now a review in progress and I'm considering the approach I would recommend for the future. I personally would performance centres where coaches and young players can be developed together. Eventually at the ages of 13/14 development games could be arranged.
I'm keen to hear coaches from a variety of sports who could explain their sports approach.
In Rugby League the present system has removed representative to U15. Prior to that is the "England Talent Pathway" U12 - U14 - combined a coaching & playing program. This includes the professional clubs having the opportunity to run none-selective development days (in theory 3 per year - but all clubs run more) - they are open access so players can attend multiple different clubs.
Beyond this at U15 each professional club (13 clubs) can select up to 20 player on their program - same applies at U16 - these players are dual registered with the pro club and their Community club. They play up to 10 matches with the pro club and on average train twice per week with them.
There is also an England team at U16 which is selected though club nomination and National Talent Days.
I am surprised no one has raised this question before, hopefully this will minimise the number of players lost in the system and those who lose interest in the game due to lack of recognition in spite of having talent. Cricket is not most favoured sport in this country for kids but this does not mean we do not have talented player, all we need to identify them correctly and give them opportunity to play higher level of cricket. You probably know even some major counties do not have development squads which make it more players more vulnerable of being neglected. I feel we need to have a bit more transparency in the selection, more importance given to merit and not which club or region player plays for. May be invite honest feedback from club coaches. I really hope your quest creates some positive changes.
The structure for cricket development varies enormously depending on which county runs youth cricket. First class counties will have an Academy Director plus several other full time staff who will be responsible for developing the pathway from under 9’s through to formal signing at Academy level.
Problems arise when coaches select sides to win games rather than identify talent / potential. Those who go through maturation early can physically dominate, win games but may not have the talent when everyone catches up physically. Added to this because we use school years for the age groups a child born late August is a year younger than the September born child .At under 9’s this makes a considerable difference.
Another factor is that as they move from under 12’s to under 13’s the ball changes from from 4 3/4 to 51/2 ounces and the pitch length increases. Not so critical for batsmen but can be difficult for young bowlers.
As an example of how it can work I ran a under 10’s trial for those nominated by their clubs many years ago. A young lad had clear potential and played through the Middlesex County age groups and then onto the MCC University Cricket. Signed by his county he received coaching throughout that pathway from club / youth squads / school through to county coaches. At the end of the day it was his dedication and commitment to training throughout twenty years which hopefully on Thursday will culminate with his first cap at Lord’s against South Africa.
That's Toby Roland-Jones.
Gents, very good points made by Andrew and Phil.
Perfect example of Toby Roland-Jones as mentioned who was selected by his club for trials to play for county, it used to be that simple, these days in Middlesex CAG cricket once you are nominated by your club it takes nothing less then 17-18 months for a player to get to the county gateway. I am 100% sure about this, you can check the pathway. Now this a ridiculously long time for the young kids and parents to be devoted to the system where you do not even know if you will be selected in the end.
This is where development squads are important, instead of going through process again you can have some players, who are better then club level cricket, in the development squad under direct supervision of county where they are playing better level cricket.
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