Steve Snell impressed by current Academy Players

As always, it’s been a busy winter for the current crop of players on Somerset County Cricket Club’s Academy.

The future stars are being put through their paces by Academy Director Steve Snell, who has been impressed by what he has witnessed so far.

“It’s been hugely exciting seeing our talent evolving and being involved with the development of the players,” said Steve. “Having had Tom Banton and Fin Trenouth move on to the professional staff whilst two other players have also left the academy, we have a slightly smaller and younger group now, but I’ve been particularly impressed with how well they have taken to the environment. Their understanding, awareness and behaviours being around a professional set up are constantly improving. They’re certainly improving and developing their self-awareness, and that’s been great to witness.

“As coaches we need to be patient with the younger players because they are going to make mistakes and it will take time for them to master new skills. It’s vital to find the right balance between expecting them to improve whilst giving them time to learn.”

How good are the current crop of young cricketers?

“There’s no doubt that we’ve got some highly talented young players with a range of different skills,” he said. “We’ve got wicket-keepers, spinners, batters, bowlers and I’m fascinated by how the work they’re doing now will transition to playing outside over the next few months. Can they perform under pressure and put their winter work in to their summer cricket? That’s what it’s all about. It’s easy to be optimistic during the winter when we’re all indoors and there’s little or no consequence to what they’re doing, but when they’re out there competing against their peers it will be fascinating to see whether their technical, tactical and mental skills stand up to competition.”

Steve is proud that a number of Somerset’s young players have represented their country already.

“It’s great that these guys are getting recognition at International level,” he said. “Tom Banton, Tom Lammonby and Fin Trenouth were included in the England Under 19 World Cup squad and before that we’ve had the likes of Louie Shaw, Dom Bess, Ben Green and George Bartlett involved in International squads. Trust me when I say that there are more guys who will be coming through and pushing for international recognition.

“We’ve got a hotbed of talent in the South West and we are always looking at ways that we can do things better and we’re constantly evolving our programme. The passion for cricket throughout the region makes my job easier in a way because these guys are already getting lots of practice and opportunity. By the time that they get to us we need to refine and hone what they’ve been doing with some of the excellent coaches we have in the region and try to help them discover that little bit extra that may help them live their dreams of playing for Somerset and beyond.”

What attributes do young players need to make it as a professional?

“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” said Steve. “You can see someone do something well and that puts them on your radar but there’s far more to it than just that. It’s also about what kind of person they are, how they respond when their under pressure, are whether they are keen to learn? All of those facets are equally as important. It’s very easy to get caught up in the skill element, but some of the best players we’ve worked with have been very good at one skill when they’ve joined us but by the time they leave the Academy they’re much more rounded. I expect players on the Academy to be keen to work at their weaknesses as well as refining their strengths.”

How closely does Steve work with Director of Cricket Andy Hurry and Head Coach Jason Kerr?

“As a coaching group we work very closely together,” said Steve. “Myself, Andy and Jason are constantly communicating regarding the future players and they are playing a huge role in the future development of these players, which is great from my point of view.”

As Steve explains, Somerset are constantly seeking the best cricketers available. “Although we have players on the Academy, it isn’t a closed shop,” he said. “We’re always on the lookout for talent and we’re committed to being as inclusive as possible. We work closely with our neighbouring counties and they are an integral part of ensuring that we are developing the best players across the region.”

Finally, what is the best part of being the Academy Director?

“I’m really lucky and I feel fortunate that it’s my job to work with the most talented young cricketers in the South West and a team of inquisitive coaches who are constantly striving to get better. Seeing the growth of our young players during their academy journey and then watching them perform in first team cricket for Somerset is a great feeling”.

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