Steve Snell reflects on the 2018 Academy season so far.

It’s not just the first team who are enjoying a successful summer because Somerset’s Academy players are also putting in a number of impressive performances playing age group or club cricket.

As he sat watching the Under 17s notching up another success, Academy Director, Steve Snell reflected on how his young protégés have done so far this summer.

“I’ve been really pleased with a number of performances that the players have exhibited,” he said. “A number of exciting opportunities have presented themselves and, when challenged, the players have shown that they are developing, which has been very exciting.

“Lots of Academy players have represented Somerset Second XI and have made some significant contributions to the side. To see many of them putting in strong performances in West of England Premier League (WEPL) cricket has also highlighted how they are developing. I put a huge amount of value on the transition from youth to adult cricket and to see many of our players performing and influencing games at that standard is a good indication of the level that they are at.

“There’s still plenty of cricket to go this season, but I feel that the our young guys are in a really good place at the moment.”

Steve picked out some of the individual performances so far.

“Will Smeed’s transition into adult cricket this season has been noteworthy,” he said. “Last year he had a taste of Somerset Seconds cricket as a 15 year old and in fairness to him we have challenged him in terms of our and his expectations. We believe he can perform at a higher level. Up to now Will has answered everything that we have thrown at him and for him to have three significant scores in the Seconds and two big scores in WEPL cricket for Bridgwater is impressive. We will be looking for him to keep on building and improving on what he is doing, and the signs are very good for him.

“One of the disappointing aspects at the start of this summer had been that we hadn’t scored the volume of runs in our Under 17s cricket that I might have expected. In recent weeks, to see Sam Young, Kasey Aldridge, Lewis Goldsworthy and Charlie Reed play skillfully, look hungry for runs and set up the team for a some big wins  has been especially pleasing.

“I want to see our players dominate in their own peer group, so for them to have the confidence, skill and belief in themselves to do this is a good stepping stone into transitioning stella performance into adult cricket.”

Steve went onto talk about the bowlers.

“We have a large number of exciting young bowling prospects across the pathway,” he said. Andrew Griffiths, the Academy fast bowling coach, alongside our schools and club coaches has been doing a superb job in nurturing our young talent. The likes of Ned Leonard, Kasey Aldridge, Julius Sumerauer, Tom Hall and Cam Harding have all been bowling skillfully, accurately and in some cases, very quickly throughout the season and they have been a real threat in all of the games that they have played. This is making Academy selection for next season very competitive, which is of course a good thing.

“One of the hardest skill sets to find are young seamers who are physically robust and can bowl quickly, accurately and move the ball laterally in the air and off the pitch. We are lucky enough to have several in our pathway who are putting in some excellent performances. Add into that Nathan Gilchrist who has put in some really eye catching performances in the Second team and has began to grow in confidence. His skill and his learning have also developed. His awareness has been growing throughout the season and he is improving with every second team game he plays in.

“Ned Leonard who is an Under 16 has had some stand out performances in WEPL Premier One cricket for Bridgwater, which has given him a lot of confidence. He bowls at a very good pace and although he has still got a lot to learn about the craft of bowling we are delighted with where he is with his cricket and he has bowled some extremely quick spells.

“Lewis Goldsworthy has had some good opportunities this summer and has played in the England Invitational XI against South Africa, which was a great way for him to see where he is at with his cricket. He has also played in Somerset Second XI cricket and looks like he had a game that can be successful at a higher level. In a recent U17s match against Devon he got a good century on a pitch that he had to work hard for his runs on. He is someone that impressed me with his general quality of movement with the bat, ball and in the field.

“We are in an extremely good place with our young players at the moment and we are always looking to facilitate an environment that gives them the best possible opportunity to transition up to the next level and beyond.”

Steve also talked about some of the younger talent coming through the Somerset pathway.

“Behind the players already mentioned, Jamie Baird and Henry Smeed have just played in the ECB Bunbury Festival, and they have both had opportunities in Second XI cricket this year and also played at Under 17 level. Likewise Sonny Baker who is on our PSP programme has also been to the Bunbury Festival and looks an exciting young bowler.

“We are in a strong position with the talent coming through and we are of course looking at ways that we can improve our systems and processes along with the overall player experience.

“One aspect that I feel has worked really well is the opportunity for some of our elite played to play Minor Counties cricket. Ben Wells is one player who has been enjoying his cricket playing for Dorset and he has benefited from playing three-day cricket, while Lewis Goldsworthy has been representing Cornwall.

“I was delighted to see Tom Lammonby move up from the Academy onto the professional staff and this recognition was fully deserved following some outstanding performances for the seconds and for Devon CCC. I first saw Tom score a 50 on the County Ground as a 15 year old for Devon U17s and he was a pleasure to have on the SCCC Academy for the past three years. Though Tom has missed the second part of the season due to injury, he had performed well this year. I’m thrilled that he has the opportunity to join the professional staff.

Steve talked about the link between the Academy and SCB age group cricket.

“The collaboration between the SCB age group cricket programme and the SCCC Academy has been seamless throughout the year. Matt Drakeley has been doing  an outstanding job as Head of Performance Cricket for the Somerset Cricket Board. Matt and I have built a cohesive relationship with the players interests at the heart of this.

“Matt has brought in some exciting initiatives which are stimulating and engaging our young players and the feedback from this has been excellent. Coaches who have experience and knowledge of development are invaluable, and I feel that Greg Kennis in his new role as Second Team Coach has done an excellent job in ensuring that our best young players are given opportunities in the Seconds and learn to develop in the professional environment.

“Greg has been extremely keen to give our young players development opportunities and I feel that the long term future of the Club is benefiting from this.”

Steve added: “it is a highly exciting time, We have an Under 17 semi final next week against Surrey at North Perrott CC and we have just been notified that eight of young players have been picked to represent the South West region at the ECB Super Fours competition at Loughborough at the end of the month. This highlights the quality of players that are coming though.”

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