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Attention young cricketers
By Blast sports reporter Navtej Johal
You may not know this, but Coventry and Warwickshire is a rich and burgeoning breeding ground for young cricketers. I spoke to Richard Cox, academy director at Warwickshire County Cricket Club about young people and cricket in the local area.
As Academy director, Richard is, in his own words, "in charge of overseeing the very best young cricketing talent in Warwickshire". Richard, along with Gary Steer, the Academy coach, and their team of specialist coaches, has the responsibility of finding and honing this talent with the aim of getting them to eventually play for the Warwickshire senior team, and hopefully England.
“There are five key areas that we look for when selecting young players: technical ability, tactical knowledge, physical capability, personality, and mentality”, said Richard. “The mental side is becoming especially important as it separates the very good players from the excellent ones – as a young player you have to believe that you can play at the highest level and really want to achieve it.”
Of course one of the biggest success stories the Academy has had is that of England international Ian Bell. Richard remembers Bell as a player who had it all. “He was extremely technically gifted and had a great all-round game. You can see how his good habits have translated into his senior game and now he is a player who sells his wicket very dearly.”
This high standard has continued in the Academy team and Richard believes that at the moment there are some very talented players coming through, singling out medium pacer Chris Woakes for praise: “Chris is a fantastic player who has improved considerably over the last 18 months and has recently played in a game for the England under-19 team against Pakistan, along with another Warwickshire player, Andrew Miller.”
So, there are players coming through from the local area, but is cricket an inclusive sport and what does it take to get to the very top? “If a player is gifted then the opportunities and avenues to rise up to the highest levels are there. We have ten boys’ sides from under-10 through to under-19 and 37% of the boys are from ethnic minorities, with a large portion from the Muslim community.” However, Richard was quick to point out that ability is not the only thing required to get to the top: “It’s not all about ability – the mentality of the player is so important and the time and application need to be put in for the player to succeed.”
Richard also had some advice for any aspiring young cricketers out there: “The best thing you can do is join a club, and at the youngest age you can. The very best players were all part of a club at under-9 level and it’s been a key part of their success.”
last updated: 29/08/07