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Meet the EPP

Matt Drakeley, the Somerset Cricket Board Performance Head Coach, will be in charge of this year’s Emerging Player Programme (EPP)

“The Emerging Player Programme is all about providing opportunities for players within our county age group system,” he explained. “It’s a reward for performances through the summer or if we believe that someone has the potential to move up the Somerset Pathway and onto the Academy.

“The premise is that we train twice weekly so that players have got the chance to come in to work with us on two occasions each week and this year we have added school visits to the programme. As a result of this I’m spending a couple of mornings a week, plus lunchtimes in schools in the north and the south of the county to make sure that they are getting as much contact time as they can to get to where they want to be.

“This then provides additional opportunities to what they already get within the age group programme.

“However, we don’t want this to be to the detriment of other things, so we are always in conversations with schools and with parents to ensure that this extra time can run alongside other things that they do, rather than in place of them.”

Matt then went on to talk about each of the players involved in this year’s EPP.

“In this year’s intake we’ve got four who are Under 14s. They are players who did really well last summer like Noah Davis, who is a batter from Lansdown Cricket Club who scored a lot of runs for the Under 13s.

“Then there’s Josh Thomas who is a slow left arm spinner and left handed batter who plays for Taunton St Andrews. He did really well at the back end of the season and scored a hundred at the Bromsgrove Festival. He also did well in the Taunton St Andrews journey to the ECB Club Under 13 and Under 15 finals.

“Ollie Heard has got a lot of potential as a fast bowler and has recently joined Taunton School. He is an excellent swimmer as well so there is a huge amount of athletic potential there which is why he has come on to the programme.

“Finally there is Rufus Williams-Pritchard who plays for Huish and Langport Cricket Club and has performed brilliantly with both bat and ball for the Under 13s this summer. He is an exciting cricketer who we look forward to working with.”

Matt went on: “In the Under 15 age group, which is the group that is going to Sri Lanka this year, we have two who have been retained from last year. James Rew is a left handed batter and a wicket keeper who plays for Taunton St Andrews.

“George Thomas is also from St Andrews and we see him as a batter who is quite aggressive and also bowls as well. He played a big part in helping St Andrews get through to the Under 15 Cup Final.

“We have also got some new players on the EPP. Charlie Sharland was at Ashbrittle last summer and has now moved to Taunton Deane. Through the summer he performed brilliantly and played a year up for the Under 15 scoring a match winning 100 for them.

“Jack Harding is a left arm quick bowler, who was at Congresbury but has recently joined Clevedon. He has got some really exciting traits which could mean that his bowling could go a long way.

“Max Horton is a right arm off spinner who performed superbly for the Under 17s three years up last summer. He ended up taking about 15 wickets for the Under 17s which as a 14-year-old is a magnificent achievement.”

The final age group is the Under 16 from which there are two players.

“Alfie Ogborne is a left arm bowler who plays for Sparkford. He was injured last year but showed some really good attributes and qualities that make him an exciting player to work with. He didn’t make it to the Bunbury Festival, but he impressed in the process.

“Ollie Meadows plays for Old Bristolians/Westbury and has been on the EPP before. We set him some objectives and he certainly achieved those and came in and scored runs in the Under 17s in some tough matches towards the end of the year. He is an opening batter and we look forward to working with him and seeing him develop.”

Finally Matt talked a little about the programme ahead.

“Pre-Christmas is about getting back into it and seeing a few technical changes that they have identified to work on. After the festive period it becomes more about the art of playing the game. Then from April the match programme kicks in and it’s about them showing what they can do.”

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