Kent’s talented Academy scholars could get the opportunity to step up a grade and play for the Second XI, who start their season at The County Ground, Beckenham this weekend with two 50-over friendlies against Jersey.
All-rounders Kashif Ali and Harsh Kumar are in a 12-man squad with former scholar Jan Gray, a leg spinner from Folkestone, also selected for the double-header.
Coach Min Patel, told Peter Burrowes, that there are a number of youngsters who will get a chance to learn their trade in the Seconds this season and the club have the perfect framework in place to develop homegrown players and provide them with an environment to flourish into potential first team players.
The former Kent and England spinner said: “We have a slightly smaller senior squad in numbers will allow some of the Academy talent to get a chance to play at a higher level, perhaps more than before.
“They will learn from any senior players in the side, which can only be of benefit to them in the future.
A number of players, the latest amongst them Zak Crawley and Grant Stewart have benefitted enormously from time in the middle playing for the Seconds and both have gone on last season to play in the first team and sign senior contracts with the county.
Young wicket-keeper Ollie Robinson also played regularly for the team and has gone on to play for the first team and shown that he can be a talented replacement for Sam Billings or Adam Rouse if called upon.
Min, who has a close association with Bexley Cricket Club says the young players also get the opportunity to play in the very competitive Kent Cricket League on Saturday’s during the season when they are not required by the county. He is also keen to see Kent spread their scouting network into the South East London area where young players would be able to use the top class facilities at the County Ground, Beckenham.
The left-armer, who took 630 first class wickets, said: “We usually manage to produce a couple of players a season who make their pathway from the Seconds to the first team and we need to continue that trend. It is difficult to get consistency in the team throughout the season because we are never really able to have a settled side, which often also includes triallists.”
The Second XI do not have a permanent captain but is usually led by a senior player with Adam Riley named skipper this Saturday and Alex Blake leads the side on Sunday.
Patel said: “Changing captains for different matches is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives the player involved the chance to learn leadership skills and gives them more responsibility which can only serve them well in their future careers.”
The Second XI play three-day Championship cricket, 50-over Trophy matches and T20 double-headers with most home matches taking place at Beckenham and at Kent’s training base at Polo Farm in Canterbury. This season there is a Trophy match at Bromley Cricket Club’s headquarters and T20 fixtures at Folkestone.
Squad v Jersey (14-15 April, The County Ground, Beckenham): Kashif Ali, Alex Blake, Jordan Cox, Ollie Robinson (wk), Harsh Kumar, Adam Riley, Imran Qayyum, Lee Tyrell, Tom Wing, Miles Richardson, Louis Pickering, Jan Gray.