By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
THREE young cricketers from Cullompton CC have been selected for winter training squads for youth development sides.
Ollie Friend (9), Jack McManus (10) and Luke Schneebeger (11) have all been selected for Development squads. Friend and McManus are in the under-10 development programme; Schneebeger is with the under-11 group.
Friend, a batter who bowls off-spin attends Willowbank Primary School in Cullompton. All-rounder McManus is a pupil at Tidcombe School in Tiverton and bowler Schneebeger attends Exeter School.
Ollie is a third-generation cricketer whose granddad is former Devon all-rounder Terry Friend. Adam Friend, Ollie’s dad, said his father has been chipping in with advice to compliment the comprehensive coaching available at the club and through Andy Buzza’s BAC Academy.
“Granddad does show Ollie a thing or two, from things like holding the bat to his bowling run up,” said Adam, who plays for Cullompton.
“I do hope Ollie can follow in my dad’s footsteps as he loves his cricket so much. Every Saturday and Sunday during the summer there is no other place he wants to be than at the cricket club, practising and watching cricket with his friends.”
Granddad Friend played regularly for Devon between 1971-1974. Friend won Devon League and Devon KO Cup titles at Paignton, where he had two spells as captain. He finished his career at Bradninch where he earned selection for the Devon Over-50s.
Adam said his son caught the cricket bug while attending All Stars sessions organised for primary school children at Cullompton. Thanks to initiatives such as All Stars and the follow-on Dynamos initiative the club has expanded its youth section dramatically in just a few years.
“In the past Cullompton just did training and a few matches,” said Adam.
“Despite the Coronavirus problems we had a great summer of youth cricket last year when we played 10-12 matches, which helped our young players progress into county programmes.
“Lots of kids turned up and lots of their parents stayed and watched them at every match. It really was a great summer.
“Next season Cullompton will have an Allstars team, Dynamos team, under-10s’ hardball, under-11s’ hardball and an under-14 team.
“We are really pushing our youth programme now and hope to have an age-grade team at every level within a few years and other young boys and girls getting into the Development programme.”
Devon Cricket Board, which runs the Develeopment programme in the county, will start winter training at Blundell’s School, Tiverton as soon as Coronavirus restrictions are relaxed.