Gary Yates leads U17's North side to victory
The North were crowned the strongest region in Under-17s cricket for the third time in four years after a rain-affected climax to the England Development Programme Super-4 Competition.
They seemed to be on top in Saturday’s Final, after dismissing South and West for 179, and although they were unable even to launch a run chase because of the weather, the North’s captain Ben Birkhead lifted the trophy because his team had finished top of the round robin phase on net run rate.
It may have been a damp climax, with the trophies presented by EDP chairman of selectors David Graveney OBE inside the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough as thunder rumbled overhead.
But for Graveney and Mo Bobat, the ECB’s Player Identification Lead and EDP Operations Manager, the fourth Super-4 week will still be counted a major success.
“We have two major objectives for the week,” explained Bobat. “First, to have the best players in the country in the Under-17s age group playing with and against the other best players, in pressure situations. And second, for us to find out more about all the players involved, on and off the field.
Photo below - Left to right Gary Yates (North Head Coach), Sam Oldham, Chris Sanders, George Lavelle, Ed Moulton
“It means that as well as observing the cricket, our scouts can sit with the players and coaches during the games – a rare and valuable opportunity. And both the scouts and the coaches really strengthen our relationships with the counties.
“People like Greg Kennis from Somerset and Simon Guy from Yorkshire have been here from our scouting network, and the teams are led by a list of key people from counties – Gary Yates of Lancashire and Richard Damms of Yorkshire work together for the North, for example. Chris Tolley from Notts has been here again with the Midlands team, Rich Almond from Glamorgan and Charlie Freestone from Hampshire for South and West, and Carl Hopkinson and Mike Yardy from Sussex with London and East.
“Then you throw in the fact that we have our national lead coaches like Andy Flower at Loughborough for a couple of days, and that really adds to the prestige of the event for the lads involved.”
Graveney highlighted an extra significance in this year’s competition. “I said at the beginning of the week to everyone involved that the guys in the room were the guys who are likely to form the England team for the ICC Under-19s World Cup in New Zealand in 2018,” he said.
“This has been an important staging point for all of them – as Mo and Richard say, the chance for us to have a look at them in a high-pressure environment, and also the chance for them to compare themselves with their contemporaries from all over the country.
“The last thing I’d like to say is that the quality and intensity of the cricket has improved in each of the four years we’ve run the Super-4s. Anyone who watched the matches this week would have every right to be positive about the future of English cricket.”
Gary Yates, Academy Director said, "It was a really enjoyable and productive week in Loughborough. The standard of cricket was very high and tt was great to see the four Lancashire lads performing well in pressure situations.
"Haseeb Hameed, Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Parkinson played in this competition two years ago whilst they were part of the Academy structure.