Chesterfield Cricket Lovers' Society


Chairman David Marshall together with AJ Harris and Members of the Derbyshire CCC Cricket Academy at Queen's Park.
Picture: Mike Taylor

A slightly unusual format to our Meeting in Queen's Park on Monday 16th January when we were entertained by members of this year's students of the Derbyshire Cricket Academy. We were reminded that when the Academy had been set up - in November 2004 - the early sessions had taken place in the drafty, crumbling, old Cricket School at the County Ground (which at least had the advantage of being bomb-proof, because of its concrete roof!). Soon, though, operations had been moved into the spanking new state-of-the-art facilities of the Gateway Centre, constructed on the site of the old Racecourse Grandstand. So far thirty nine "students" had passed through the Academy, of whom fifteen had subsequently played First Class, or Category "A" County Cricket. Six former students currently held full time Cricket Contracts; another six had Summer Contracts. For the majority of the Academy's lifetime Karl Krikken had been its Director, but since his elevation to the post of Derbyshire's Head of Cricket that position had been occupied by Howard Dytham.

Five of the current crop of students were in attendance at our Meeting - Harry White, Ben Cotton, Mykolo Bird, Tom Taylor and - by no means least - Chesterfield C C's own young star, Matt Fletcher. They were accompanied by one of the coaches, Andrew "A J" Harris, the former Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and England "A" seam bowler.

Mr. Harris explained the ethos of the Academy and pointed out that, in the end, it was the Players' Academy - to be run as they felt was best for their development. He emphasised, too, that the Academy Staff were very dependent on the support and co-operation of the parents and school Headmasters, with whom they worked in close conjunction. School studies needed to be fitted in to the equation; also the fact that some students also had other sporting and leisure interests - two of our guests played football, for instance, albeit mainly to help to maintain their level of fitness during the winter and another was trying out Golf. The Academy ran for 22 weeks, from early November until late March, with a short break for Christmas. The players met on two evenings a week throughout this period, although there was a certain amount of flexibility in this regard, bearing in mind the need to work around school commitments. In the Summer they competed in local Cricket as the "Derbyshire Colts" and had won the Derbyshire Premier Cup in 2011.

Questions from the floor ranged around various topics, such as:

the "catchment" area for recruitment - Mr. Harris said that the Academy had welcomed players from Staffordshire, Cheshire and Shropshire as well as Derbyshire;

the well publicised problems caused by depression amongst some Cricketers - the County had recruited specialist mentors and advisers to advise on that aspect of the Academy's responsibilities and;

priorities in the Summer - what happened for example if there was a clash between a club cricket commitment and an important School fixture;

as well as a number of more light-hearted questions.

All in all another enjoyable evening, not least because of the very mature and responsible attitude and thought-provoking views expressed by the young students.

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