With the winter here, we thought it would be an opportune time to provide an update on the Devon pathway for this winter and looking forward to the summer of 2019.
We have had a busy few months since the end of the 2018 season, both on and off the field. The Devon Cricket professional staff have travelled around the County delivering Club Forums and we’d like to thank those of you who were able to attend. During these forums’ clubs were updated on the structure and pathway for junior cricket from ECB All Stars Cricket up to the professional game.
The game is ever evolving, and the changes made to the pathway remove geographic quotas and competitions in squads, and instead support talent and capability regardless of postcode.
It is essential that players understand that whilst they are in a certain part of the programme now, it is constantly under review. Team selection and transition between Development Centres, County Age groups or at schools and clubs is expected. We need players to challenge for places at all times. All players should recognise that skill and physicality develop differently, players grow and progress as their bodies and mind dictates. Placement into one squad does not permanently define where you will play.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
In August and September, Devon pathway observations were undertaken, firstly at Blundell’s School and then at the Devon Cricket Centre. All players throughout the pathway were observed by experienced coaches across numerous facets of the game. These sessions were delivered with an aim to provide an opportunity in which players would benefit, providing coaching tips and an environment where players could flourish. From these initial observations, players of the required standard were invited to a further County Age Group assessment.
At the beginning of this new process we had 833 nominated players from clubs and schools from across Devon. In the last week of October all players were made aware of the outcome from these observation days. In total, 633 players have been invited to take part in either a Youth Development Cricket centre or a County Age Group winter training squad. Within the age ranges of the programme we have a higher number of players accessing coaching than we had in previous years.
All research tells us that talent identification is not a perfect science. As such we expect that some players who have not been successful this time around may very well be successful in the future. Throughout this winter and into the County Age Group and Youth Development Cricket match programme, players will again be able to show off their talent. We will all continue to keep a close eye on players of interest.
We strongly encourage players at all levels to firstly enjoy their cricket and secondly work on improving their basic skills whether it be batting, bowling, fielding or keeping wicket.
A more joined-up approach between Youth Development Cricket and County Age Group Cricket will enable a seamless movement for those players that are developing at the required rate and for those who would benefit from a different challenge.
Our aim is to provide different game formats and situations to challenge, inspire and develop players. During the summer months the match programmes for County Age Group and Youth Development Cricket will provide opportunities for players to develop and express themselves in various match types aligned to the new pitch lengths and formats from the ECB. These are further opportunities for players to again show off their talent and a chance for managers and coaches involved in the pathway to keep a close eye on players and communicate with each other.
Youth Development Cricket matches will be played over the May half term and summer holidays at venues around the county. Date and venues for these matches will be available in the New Year. The formats played at the matches will encourage player development over team success, we will encourage players to explore their games technically, tactically and mentally. Some of these formats will include; roaming coaches, smaller sided games, additional scoring areas, spin games and festival days. The approach will be to give the most chance for cricketers to play and perform; the system is no longer a competition bewteen districts.
The timing of matches during the half term and summer holidays is to help encourage players into club cricket during the school term and at weekends. We would like to see young players performing regularly and showing loyalty to their clubs. In addition, we encourage all parents, coaches and managers to volunteer and support the development of players in their club environment. Helping to increase the quality and the quantity of players available for club cricket is a vital ingredient to the long-term health of the game.
The next nine to twelve months should be an exciting time for players to access quality coaching across the County helping to develop themselves and their cricketing abilities in various situations, formats and environments. The spring will be around soon and another phase and season will bring fresh opportunities.