The reputation of Worcestershire in being a club that provides opportunities to young players continues to grow. Almost a decade ago the club made a conscious effort to invest in developing home grown players. The club has done this in conjunction with support from local schools, satellite academies and the Worcestershire Cricket Board. The academy programme overseen for over a decade by Damian D’Oliveira and now Elliot Wilson continues to identify and develop players from across the region. The close links with surrounding counties provide opportunities for players from across the region to access high quality support.
Academy Summary 2017
The year started with the announcement of four new full academy players and though this was not intentional the four all came from a state school background. We were interested to see how a full cohort of state school players would develop and what we sore was quite spectacular. The four players Adam, Matt, Zain and Xavie were a credit to themselves and the programme right from the get go. They were seen at Malvern three nights a week without fail and all day Sunday and by mid-winter you could already start to see the developments they were making.
The summer started with the festival at Shrewsbury School where we were able to provide early season cricket for the likes of Josh Dell and Zen Malik (WCCC Scholars for 2017) plus introduce the likes of Henry Cullen and Josh Dickenson, both U14. Josh Dell led the side very well and scored his runs and made the most of the practice time in victories vs Millfield, Shrewsbury and Worksop. The final day sore Henry Cullen, josh Dickenson and Charlie Greening come to the fore. Being significantly younger than their opponents they showed their older opponents a great display of slow bowling and keeping. Charlie is a off spinner from Halesowen and Josh is a leg spinner from Bernard’s Green.
The early part of the summer is dominated by school and academic demands interspersed with the occasional game for the academy and U17 groups. We took a young group to Malvern College and they performed well where again Henry Cullen ‘kept the house down’. During this period Adam Finch, Matt Davis and Zain Ul Hassan all made their 2XI debut in various 1 day and T20 games with Zain showing a huge amount of scope for potential development. Matt and Adam looked at home and were a credit to the programme in their initial forays into professional cricket.
In the early part of the season we were joined by Kyle Piper from Cricket ACT in Canberra. I number of the pros have been to Canberra in recent winters and benefitted from additional training opportunities. It was great to do a small bit in return and I personally enjoyed having Kyle around. His role at ACT is similar to mine here and we have continued to swap ideas since he returned home.
In 2017 we were able to be involved in two competitive programmes which is a great step forward and again shows players in a differing light. We were able to put a side in the Birmingham League pre-season cup competition (Graham Williamson Trophy) plus a tri series between Worcestershire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. Results wise we were not to flash but again it told me where lads were at.
We hosted Ireland U19s for two one day games in mid-July and again they provided us the most competitive cricket of the year. It is something in the Irish mentality that everything is done with passion and zeal. We will host them again in 2018.
Mid-summer sore Josh Tongue and Adam Finch selected to play in the England U19 series vs India plus Zain and Jack Haynes joining Adam at the U17 Super 4s festival at Loughborough. For the Bunbury U15 festival again sore strong representation from our programmes with Pete Clark, Alex Hinkley, Dan Holland and Lewis Evans representing Worcestershire. Pete and Alex went on to represent Worcestershire in the best of Bunbury’s event in late August.
It was very satisfying to see Josh, Pat and George go on and play full first XI cricket in 2018 and I am overjoyed to see the support the likes of Jack Haynes and Adam Finch will be receiving from Bumpy and the team. In addition Dillon Pennington has started at the University of Worcester on a scholarship again showing the value of the relationship between WCCC and the UoW.
To see Joe, Josh, George, Dillon and Adam away with various international pathway programmes this winter does not half make all the hours that get put in by the staff worthwhile. It will be a continual motivation through the winter to support ‘The next one’. In addition to see them supported at various levels by Bump and Mase is recognition for what they are doing.