Simon Willis – Academy Report 2012

Sunday 25th November 2012

Review of the Previous Year, 2011/12

With a clear strategy “Rising to the Next Level” and new selection policy, the Kent Cricket Academy entered into a new and exciting phase.

The long term aim of the Academy for me has always been to produce a wave of technically superior cricketers who in time benefit Kent Cricket at senior level with a number going on to gain international recognition. The intention is to nurture not only elite level players but more rounded respectful individuals that I call “Independent Thinking Cricketers” or “Students of the Game” who are proud to play for this club and have an affinity for it.

The young scholars really worked hard during the winter months with individual skill sessions being delivered by a number of past or present Kent players working alongside Phil Relf and myself. Geraint Jones, Martin Saggers, Min Patel and Darren Scott brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to these sessions that enabled some encouraging progress to be made.

A new element to the winter programme was a specific fitness/pilates evening that was impressively delivered by the combined efforts of Strength & Conditioning Coach Peter Kelly and Physiotherapist Max Ganderton. This proved to be a successful addition to the programme that allowed the scholars to build on the excellent progress that was made in this area in the previous year.

Once again in April we ran a very successful 2 day pre-season camp outdoors which mirrored that of the professional staff. We were very lucky to have former Kent and England players Mark Ealham and Min Patel involved from a coaching perspective that enabled us to work on the theme of performing under pressure for the weekend with our psychologist Sion Thomas. Academy graduate and present day Kent player Sam Northeast also very kindly agreed to support this theme by doing a question and answer session on the transition to professional cricket and some of the challenges you may be faced with as a young player.

Unfortunately our new summer match programme of four early season fixtures suffered greatly by the weather. Fixtures against Canterbury C.C, Hartley Country Club C.C and Bexley C.C were all abandoned without a ball being bowled but thankfully we got the opportunity to play against Lordswood C.C that enabled our young scholars to experience time cricket for the first time which proved a great success and something to build on into the future.

Opportunities were given to a number of Academy scholars to play second eleven cricket. Jack Laraman, Henry Pickering, Shaun Piesley and Sam Weller all U17 cricketers experienced playing in a variety of formats at this level throughout the season. Their contribution and skill improvement showed the need to continuously stretch and challenge our young scholars in our environment and not let them get too comfortable.

Ryan Davies, Piers Richardson and Michael Waller were all selected for the London & East of England U15 squad that attended the Bunbury festival. Throughout the week all three individuals contributed with match winning performances but unfortunately missed out on final selection for the EDP U16 winter programme at Loughborough.

Deanna Cooper was named “Best Academy Scholar” becoming the first female to receive the John Aitken Gray Trophy. She performed really well for the England National Academy team on their tour of South Africa early in the year that resulted in her selection for the England Senior Woman’s provisional T20 World Cup Squad as well as the England U19 home series against Pakistan.

It was a great pleasure to see another Academy graduate make his first class debut this summer. Ivan Thomas represented the Kent County Cricket Club first team in the Championship match against Essex at Chelmsford finishing with respectable bowling figures of 16 -7-29-2.

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to work alongside a very professional and committed group of coaches and support staff. Their tireless efforts play a significant part in the development of our young scholars and I very much appreciate the massive contribution they make in creating our positive learning environment. The support of the schools and cricket club’s also plays a significant role in shaping the scholars individual programmes and we thank them for working closely with us in trying to find the right balance.

BBC Radio Kent recently produced an audio package,10 Years of the Kent Cricket Academy click here to have a listen.

National Selection

The following past or present Academy scholars were selected in National squads/teams during 2011/12.


England Lions Team – Matthew Coles

England Hong Kong Sixes Team – Adam Ball

England U19 Team -Adam Ball, Daniel Bell-Drummond


England Senior Team – Lydia Greenway, Tamsin Beaumont

England National Academy – Tamsin Beaumont, Deanna Cooper, Alice Davidson-Richards, Natasha Farrant

England U19 Team – Deanna Cooper, Natasha Farrant

Regional Selection

The following past or present Academy scholars were selected in Regional squads/teams during 2011/12.


London & East of England U15 – Ryan Davies, Piers Richardson, Michael Waller


England Woman’s Development Programme U19 – Deanna Cooper, Alice Davidson-Richards, Natasha Farrant

County Selection

The following past or present Academy scholars were selected in Kent Senior squads/teams during 2011/12.


First Class – Adam Ball, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sam Billings, Alex Blake, Matthew Coles, Sam Northeast, Adam Riley, Ivan Thomas

List “A”- Sam Billings, Alex Blake, Matthew Coles, Sam Northeast, Adam Riley

Twenty20 – Adam Ball, Alex Blake, Sam Billings, Matthew Coles, Sam Northeast, Adam Riley


List “A” – Lydia Greenway, Joanna Watts, Tamsin Beaumont, Deanna Cooper,

Alice Davidson-Richards, Natasha Farrant

Twenty20 – Lydia Greenway, Joanna Watts, Tamsin Beaumont, Deanna Cooper,

Alice Davidson-Richards

Best Academy Scholar

Deanna Cooper

Performance Squads Awards

The following 2011/12 Academy scholars won the associated Performance Squad awards during the 2012 season for ECB county age competitions.


U17 Leading Wicket Taker – Sam Weller

U17 Fielding Award – Shaun Piesley

U15 Leading Run Scorer – Zak Crawley

U15 Leading Wicket Taker – Piers Richardson

U15 Fielding Award – Ryan Davies