It’s been a successful week for Worcestershire trio Jack Haynes, Adam Finch and Zain Ul-Hassan as part of the Midlands team which won the ‘Super Fours’ 50 over and T20 competitions.
And it was the County’s Academy coach Elliot Wilson who was in charge of the team after succeeding former Worcestershire all-rounder Chris Tolley in the role during the past week at the National Performance Centre, Worcester.
Here Elliot Wilson looks back at a memorable week in a Question and Answer session with the Worcestershire CCC website.
Question: You must be delighted with the team and the three Worcs players?
Elliot Wilson: “We’ve had a really good seven days up at Loughborough. The week really couldn’t have gone any better for the Midlands group.
“They genuinely played some outstanding cricket as a group and they have come together really nicely as a collection of guys from Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Derbyshire.
“They have impressed a lot of people not only with their individual performances but how well they played as a group.”
Question: It was a marvellous knock from Jack Haynes in the T20 final?
Elliot Wilson: “Jack got better and better as the week went on. He’s had a really good six or seven weeks with the second team at Worcs but the downside of all that experience is it’s a bit tougher cricket and you don’t get as many opportunities to spend time in the middle scoring runs.
“He was probably just a bit short of runs and batting rhythm coming into the week. He got going in the first three games and put in some contributions, played nicely and was getting going.
“In the T20 semi-final, he played down the order and got a few runs towards the end and I think that would have helped to free him up a little bit.
“Then himself and Ben Claydon have opened up in the final and played properly, played grown up cricket in an Under-17 enviroment.
“Jack has outscored Ben and it wasn’t pyro-technics cricket with balls sailing over the boundaries. It was proper cricket shots, good options, good decisions and he has played magnificently, really quite impressive.
“I hope the powers that be at Loughborough have taken note of his performances because I think and the club think he is a very special cricketer.”
Question: David Graveney has said this was an opportunity for players to stake a claim for future England Under-19s squads?
Elliot Wilson: “The Under-19s this summer had a really tough series against India which isn’t a rare thing against India because it is a tough task.
“But they have come out of that, the support staff, a little disappointed and thinking ‘have we got the right players’ so they’ve gone ‘let’s give everyone a fair opportunity’ and guys from all over the country have had a real chance to stake a claim to be under serious consideration for Under-19s cricket this winter
“It includes a camp out in South Africa pre-Christmas and a Tri-Series against the hosts and Namibia as preparation for the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand so what a reward that us at the end of it all for everyone.
“If that doesn’t get you going and inspire you to be at your very best, then I don’t know what will.”
Question: There were also encouraging performances from Adam Finch and Zain Ul-Hassan.
Elliot Wilson: “Adam Finch and Zain Ul Hassan did very well. Adam did what was expected of him as someone who had already been picked to play England Under-19s cricket.
“He came in and role-modelled the behaviours and standards that are expected of that group and he did very well and put in some performances and showed some ruthlessness which we talked about throughout the week. He did that very well.
“Zain as an Under-16, a year young for the festival, showed his all-round quality, in the field, with his bowling skills picking up useful wickets, and then in the second 50 over game he played a very mature innings, a run a ball 47, and his partnership with Ethan Brookes of Warwickshire was the difference between the sides.
“They showed a bit more skill than the North Under-17s were able to show.”
Question: How did opportunity come about to be coach of the team?
Elliot Wilson: “Chris Tolley, formerly of Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire, had run that side for the past four years. He stood down as Academy Director at Nottinghamshire and subsequently was not eligible to run the Midlands side.
“Eddie Burke and David Graveney from the ECB – Eddie being the Regional Performance Manager for the Midlands – contacted me to ask if I would consider putting my name forward for the role.
“I said if you’d like me to do the role, I’d love to do it. I spoke to Bumpy earlier in the year and said ‘there is an opportunity for me to be involved in this, would you have any issues if I could make sure the rest of my stuff is managed while I’m away?’
“He said if you’ve got the opportunity to do that, you must go and do so and then Eddie and I set out back in February to work out who the players might be, building conversations and relationships with other Academy directors on a different level as a coach of the Midlands group.
“We spent a lot of time watching players and talking to academy directors about players and eventually we got around selecting a group currently performing very well and of the highest potential moving forward, with the greatest chance of being professional cricketers moving forward.
“We came up with a really nice group of 14 players which we were excited about taking and the lads have done us proud and we’ve had a great seven days with them.”
Question: “It’s great for you, a big honour?
Elliot Wilson: “I hadn’t really thought of it like that. I was really appreciative to Mo and Matt and Grav on Sunday to say thank you for the opportunity and the experience for myself. It’s been a great experience for myself.
“I think between myself Mal Loye and Eddie we added some value to the week for the group. They’ve played some good cricket which is the easiest thing to say ‘well done.’ But all the coaches there with the four teams have put in a great shift for the ECB basically.
“It is a great experience for all of us as coaches to go and do stuff like that. We spend a week with other academy directors talking coaching, talking cricket, in a real live experience situation.”
Question: Presumably it’s a good opportunity to exchange information?
Elliot Wilson: “You do. You can see how other people move forward and do their business and it’s good and really beneficial for me and I have thoroughly enjoyed being out of my own enviroment and working in a different one for the week because you don’t often get the opportunity to do it and when you do it’s a very refreshing venture.”