Warwickshire’s U18s and U14s boys are both targeting silverware having reached the final of their respective competitions this week.
The U18s defeated Durham at the Seat Unique Riverside Stadium by an impressive 168-run margin to book their place in the final of the ECB National 50 over County Cup, whilst the U14s defeated Lancashire in a tight affair at Kenilworth Wardens in the ECB National 45 over County Cup.
The results are a testament to the hard work of the Academy staff, who have seen their young talent bear fruit this week with Hamza Shaikh and Taz Ali playing for England U19s against Australia on Saturday, and Theo Wylie firing two centuries for England Young Lions Xl.
Wylie, in fact, has been a contributor to an 18s side that have battled their way through a pure knockout competition involving all First Class and National Counties.
Having received a bye in the first round, Warwickshire beat Worcestershire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Durham and will now face Somerset at Kibworth Cricket Club on Sunday 3 September.
There were impressive performances throughout the competition with Wylie, Oliver Dandy, Yusuf Khalil, Issac Mohammed and Taz Ali all making match-winning contributions. Kai Smith, who has been part of the Metro Ban One Day Cup side, fired 155* (118 balls) to secure the win over local rivals Worcestershire.
The U14s, meanwhile, were unbeaten and finished top of their round-robin eleven team group. Having beat Derbyshire by 118 runs in the quarter-final, the Bears were led by spin bowlers Jack Pidgeon and Eddie Miller in a tense semi-final.
The U18s will face Somerset at Kibworth Cricket Club on Sunday 3 September, whilst Essex will be the Bears opponents at Loughborough University on Wednesday 30 August for the the ECB National 45 over County Cup.
Perfomance Director Gavin Larsen, who attended the match in Durham, admits he was left impressed by the talent on show.
“I was very impressed overall and it was a really good opportunity for me to see our emerging cricketers under pressure in such a high stakes match,” said Larsen.
“I was really pleased with for team and the coaching group and I thought they responded really well to the typical ebb and flow of a cricket match.
“Coming in to my role, it’s nice to see young players coming through and it was major point of interest for me when I started to see how the Pathway operates.
“For me it looks strong, robust, and there are no red flags. I’d like to see more pace bowling come through the group, but it’s hard to gauge as cricketers develop at different times.
“The key is to have the base of the pyramid nice and wide, so to see our U14s reach a final is great. We have to be careful with kids at that age, because there’s attrition and I did a lot of work on that in Wellington, so we’ve certainly got to keep it in context. Nevertheless, it does give you a warm, fuzzy feeling to see a group of young lads in a national final.
“I wish the players and coaching staff of both teams the best of luck in what is going to be an exciting week ahead.”
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