In 2001 there
will be eight members of Durham's playing staff who have developed
through the Academy system since it's inception four years ago.
It would be a fair bet to say, that within two or three years, that
number will have increased again. These numbers reflect not only
the ability of the lads, but also their dedication and ambition
through a period of their lives when there are plenty of distractions.
Regular practice in frozen halls or slogging through the woods behind
Lumley Castle seems to have worked.
of the current or recent Academy have 'just returned' from an England
U19 tour to India, and they have just learned that there is no greater
way of improving your game than getting such an experience. The
pitches, the cricket, the culture, a different way of life, different
values all add up to make the man a wiser and better player.
And what a range
of opportunities there are for young players to spend time abroad.
Formerly, it used to be a coaching job, or, if you were lucky, a
decent standard of cricket to play in. Now, a young quickie can
attend the Dennis Lillee Pace Academy in Madras (Ian Hunter). The
ECB have a reciprocal scholarship with the Victoria Cricket Association
(Paul Collingwood). Cricket development academies are advertised
in Western Australia and were attended by Marc Symmington and Nicky
Hatch, Marc's place has been sponsored by the Banks Group, to whom
the Club and Marc are very grateful. National U17 trips to the Aussie
Academy in Adelaide (Gary Scott). All of these are in addition to
the usual International tours for the U19 age group. (Pratt, Muchall,
Of course, participation
in any of these does not guarantee a successful career, but the
fact that Durham lads are now taking up these chances, shows that
the desire to improve is there and that is certainly a good starting
Very often the
messages put over to these lads are the same as they would have
received in Old Blighty but, for some reason, a foreign accent,
a hot sun, and a cool beer have a greater effect than a hunched
up shivering coach in Fyndoune College, Sacriston!