Elite Pathway Manager Matt Wood believes the new Academy system will provide an ‘extra step’ that will help young players progress from the Nottinghamshire county age group sides to the professional ranks.
Until last year, an Academy side had previously competed in the Nottinghamshire Premier League on Saturday afternoons against the leading club sides.
The team will now no longer compete in that competition, but they will, instead, fulfil friendly matches against other Academy sides, as well as Loughborough University and Lincolnshire, with other fixtures to be added.
The new system aims to give the players regular match practice in the formats they will play at first and second XI level, while individual players will still be able to get additional game time by turning out for a club side in the Nottinghamshire Premier League.
“The players will have a level of challenging opposition that will help them in their bid to move up through the ranks.”
“The changes are about giving our Academy players more opportunities to play and more chances to test themselves against their peers, by which I mean other county Academy sides, minor counties and universities,” said Wood.
“They will have a level of challenging opposition that will help them in their bid to move up through the ranks and akin to what they will potentially play against on a regular basis in the future.
“It will be some white ball cricket 50-over cricket, some white-ball T20 cricket and some three-day red ball cricket, which mirrors what happens in the professional game, rather than only playing red-ball 50-over cricket that they were involved in before.”
Wood is also delighted that the new structure leaves room for Academy players to ‘give something back’ to the clubs who helped their development as juniors.
Those players from outside the area will be helped to find a local club to ensure they do not miss out or are forced to travel too far to play on a Saturday.
He said: “It will be good for the clubs to get their best players back and give them some reward for the efforts they have put in down the years.
“It will also put some pressure on them to perform, which is something they will need to get used to if they are to progress.”
With 11 players on the Academy, Wood says that unavailability and injuries will be covered by playing trailists from junior age group sides.
“All the players have progressed pretty well this winter, benefiting from the fact that the slightly reduced numbers.”
Academy fixtures have been scheduled in such a way that they will rarely clash with either second XI or Under-17s games, allowing participation at multiple levels.
“It allows us to look at players who have been performing well over the summer and gives those young players something to aspire to,” said Wood.
“We’re quite small in Academy numbers, so if we had games on the same days, then we wouldn’t be able to fulfil fixtures with the right strength of side, so we’ve done our best to avoid that.”
“But all the players have progressed pretty well this winter, benefiting from the fact that the slightly reduced numbers means there is more contact with the coaches for all of them.
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