Devon cricket coaches recognised by ECB for services to youth cricket
TWO volunteer cricket coaches from Devon have been recognised for their outstanding contributions helping to find and develop talent for the future.
During a summer in which England beat India 4-1 in the Test series, East Devon’s Steve Walker has been continuing the quest to spot the youngsters who will follow in the footsteps of players like Alistair Cook and Jimmy Anderson.
Peter Wright, from North Devon, has been talent honing for more than 25 yeas and teams he has coached have included the Overton twins and Somerset’s one-day captain Lewis Gregory.
The England and Wales cricket board invited Walker and Wright to collect their award from England bowling coach, and former Test player, Chris Silverwood at the Southampton Test.
For the last five years, Steve has been running East Devon age-group teams, and many of those players have made it into the Devon squad. It is the same youth system that helped Dom Bess go all the way from Sidmouth under-11s to two England Test caps earlier this year.
“The award came totally out of the blue and I still have no idea who nominated me,” said Steve
“I am proud of what we have achieved with some extremely talented young players in Devon.
“It really helps to have so many local role models for them to follow, hopefully all the way into the professional game.”
Walker has also helped advise the Devon Cricket Board in developing a new strategy for youth cricket.
The District system is being replaced with a countywide performance and development programme, ensuring all talented players are given the same opportunities, irrespective of where they live in the county, or what school they attend.
“We want to encourage as many local youngsters as possible to pick up a bat and ball and give it a go,” said Steve, who works for Cooper Associates in Taunton - based just a six hit away from the Somerset cricket ground.
Wright has been a coach since the late 1970s when he suffered a serious knee injury playing rugby for Ilfracombe and had to give up the game.
“The first thing I coached wasn’t rugby or cricket, but skiing,” said Wright.
“I was offered the chance to go with a large group for half price on the understanding I coached the beginners.
“I got into rugby coaching first, around 1990 when my son started playing, then helped set up a youth section at Barnstaple & Pilton,when the new club was formed from a merger a couple of years later.
“At first I used similar mechanics to those for rugby to get the section running.
“After I did my level two course I went from District to age-group cricket and was coach to Devon under-14s for three years between 2006-2008.”
Wright was also involved in the Chance2Shine programme in schools and coached privately at all levels.
In the season just ended Wright coached the Devon under-11s.