Under 16 Boys is always a challenging year. A lot is going on for this age group. GCSEs mean the season is concertinaed into pretty much a two-month window, resulting in a lot of cricket being played in a short period.
The County Cup competition, along with the introduction of Two-Day games, and the prospect of our partners at Somerset using the Devon boys on their Academy for some of their games adds to the challenge. (That is not a complaint, we are proud to be providing players good enough to be selected for the Academy). Unavailability due to Boardmasters Festival added to the logistical challenge.
For all these reasons the target for this team (who only won three games at Under 15 Boys level) to qualify for the knockout stages was a particularly stiff one.
That they not only qualified, but did so topping their group, losing only 1 game in 8, was a tremendous team effort and one of which they should be proud. Devon was the only non-first-class county to qualify for the knockout stages. Although we were defeated in the quarter-finals by a very good Middlesex side, we certainly gave them a fright with our effort on the field. Confirmation, if it was needed, that we are doing a lot right in developing cricketers here in Devon.
The statistics show that it really was a team effort, no batter stood out against the rest, and all the bowlers contributed at different times. The Under 15 Boys we used all added something to the team. The sum total was greater than the individual parts.
This was a group who enjoyed their cricket, enjoyed each other’s company, benefitted from a fine coach in Paul Heard and tolerated a grumpy old man as their manager. I thank them all for their efforts and wish them well on their cricket pathway, wherever it may take them. I will watch their progress with interest.