Warwickshire’s Elite Cricket Development Manager Paul Greetham has outlined a “collective effort” as the best way forward to bring the brightest young talent into the Bears’ system.
Greetham is the man tasked with ensuring that the senior squad at Edgbaston is fuelled by young players produced from within the county.
And he warmly welcomes the support he receives towards that objective from other members of the cricket community in the region, from local leagues and coaching organisations to schools and former Warwickshire players.
One of our most important partners is the Birmingham League and its feeder leagues.Paul Greetham
Never before has the Academy’s quest to find and hone young talent benefited from such an integrated approach.
“It’s all about a collective effort,” said Greetham. “Cricket is not in a position to create divisions and we are fortunate to have the support of a lot of individuals and organisations locally.
“One of our most important partners is the Birmingham League and its feeder leagues. We are very keen to push our young players as high as they can go in club cricket and our relationship with captains in the leagues is very good.
“As an example, Harry Johnson, who was 17 when he joined the Academy this winter, performed really well for Kenilworth Wardens last season. We communicated closely with the club and captain Martin Donald to ensure that Harry was in a good place to perform each Saturday in the Birmingham League.
“We work closely with all private coaching providers and it is also fantastic to have guys like Dominic Ostler and Darren Maddy working with our young players, people who have not only played at the top level but also have the communications skills to pass on their knowledge effectively.
We want to help prepare them for life within or, if necessary, beyond cricket so we encourage them to play at least one other sport too which will benefit them mentally, socially and athletically.Paul Greetham
“It’s great that these guys are keen to help the next generation of Warwickshire cricketers and you can see how much the young players respond to and learn from them and the rest of our coaching staff.”
Young players chosen for the academy at Edgbaston are there because they are viewed as potential first-team material. But while every effort is poured into maximising their cricket development, time is also devoted to
preparing them for broader life as the hard fact is that not every one of them will make it through as a professional cricketer.
“These young players would not be coming into the Academy if we didn’t think that, within 12 to 18 months, they can be playing second-team county cricket and then ultimately they could become capped first-team players,” said Greetham. “But while they are with us the emphasis is on much more than just improving their cricket. We want to help prepare them for life within or, if necessary, beyond cricket so we encourage them to play at least one other sport too which will benefit them mentally, socially and athletically.”
Next year a Warwickshire Academy XI will compete in the Birmingham League’s Williamson Trophy knock-out. The Bears’ team, comprising players from the Academy, Emerging Players Programme and Development of Excellence squads, will visit Kidderminster in the first round on April 15.
Victory would earn them a second-round meeting with Shifnal or Ombersley while, if defeated, they will enter the plate.
“The vast majority of our Academy, EPP and DOE squad members are coming through the pathway of a Birmingham & District Premier club,” said Greetham, “and it’s an important part of their development to compete in such a strong competition in the regular cricket season.”
“With the Williamson Trophy scheduled in April, it presents a great opportunity to have some of our leading youngsters play together at such an early stage of the season and gaining experience of competing in one of the leading club knock-out competitions.
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