Kent Cricket Performance Squads

Tuesday 24th January 2012

Home grown cricketers please!

Kent has always been a county that is proud of its history, traditions and heritage – none more so than producing home grown cricket talent. Matches have been played at age group levels under different banners for many decades, first as “Kent Schools” and recently as “Kent Young Cricketers” and there is a long list of players who have gone on to first class and international cricket, starting with a small Underwood and a smaller Knott in the early 60s!

In February the winter training programme swings into action. Cricket in 2012 is here and soon our talented players will be matching their skills against their peers in other counties.

Last July the High Performance Committee, a small group drawn from the professional and amateur games, sought the views of coaches, managers, parents and players and as a result it has invested more resources into getting a Kent team built around young Kent players.

After careful assessment the best youngsters are placed in age-related Performance Squads, each with a tailored winter training programme, including some specialist skill development, before team preparation for the summer’s matches.

Chairman of Kent Cricket’s High Performance Committee David Turner is optimistic: “There is now a very strong partnership between the County Club and Kent Cricket Board and this has seen significant contributions from very experienced professionals. The outcomes are clear; quite young players are batting and bowling with better technique and more maturity than we used to see. We know the job we have to do and we have a team around us that is dedicated to giving each talented player the best opportunities to achieve his aspiration. On the other hand, we expect dedication and a thirst to improve, because there are always players who develop late waiting to snap up the place of anyone who can’t take the strain! It’s a serious task, but it’s great to see the lads really enjoying playing very competitively in the game they love.”

But he has a word of warning, “There is, of course, a limit to the support that can be provided. I have been involved in developing talented young cricketers for 45 years: Strangely, in my time and unlike some other counties, we have never been able to attract a sponsor. That must be one of our targets for 2012!”

Simon Willis Kent County Cricket Club High Performance Director sees the task as very dependent on getting the right people in the delivery team. “The process of identifying potential talent is a skill and a science. The quality and competitive nature of the practice and match programme as well as the experience and expertise of the coaches and managers involved at age group level are paramount in order to assure the best opportunity to identify, recruit, retain and develop players.”

Jason Weaver Kent Cricket Board High Performance Manager stresses the roles of districts, clubs and schools. “The district, club and school programme provides important opportunities for the development of all levels of player and plays a crucial role in helping to identify the most talented. The input that we have received from teachers and coaches has been invaluable in helping us to select our representative squads. The standard of the assessments was again high, with real competition for places. The support that we receive at all levels of the game, mainly on a voluntary basis, remains vitally important in helping players progress along the player pathway.”