Academy Director at Lancashire County Cricket Club, Gary Yates, has set himself the task of creating a “very strong talent pool” of young players.
The former Lancashire off-spinner stressed that the young players under his supervision should ultimately aim to represent England as well as Lancashire.
“If they play for England they’ll obviously play for Lancashire on the way up, very much like Haseeb [Hameed] has done.
“We have to make it as difficult as we can for them on the way through the academy, that’s my job.”
Yates added, “I make the programme bespoke to them so it covers their individual development needs.”
The Academy is working to improve its system with every season with Yates saying that, “We’ve done that this year, we’ve got a very good crop of youngsters just underneath the academy and hopefully they will push to get into the academy.
“The players in the academy are looking over their shoulders.”
With the competition for spots at the academy, Yates says he’s introducing them to the nature of sport.
“We need that competitive nature and structure that makes it really challenging for them.”
Several academy produced players such as Dan Houghton, Sam Oldham and George Lavelle have broken into the Lancashire’s second XI squads in recent years.
“For any player in the academy his short term goal is to break into the second XI and he has to do that with performances.
“Sam Olden has had some good performances, and represented Lancashire not this season but the year before.”
Yates also praised George Lovell, singling him out as, “a very exciting up and coming prospect.”
Unfortunately, his selection for the second XI came in a game that was washed out.
Yates said, “That’s their short term goal, get themselves a place in the second XI, perform well, and hopefully you aim for a professional contract or a scholarship.”
In July Yates took over a coaching role for the first time in the annual Bunbury Festival which brings together the cricket stars of the future.
Over the 30 years the festival has been running 684 youngsters have gone on to play first class cricket, with a further 70 representing England.
Yates, head coach of England North under 17’s in the festival, declared that he, “loved it!”
“It was a wonderful experience for a few reasons. It was the first time I’d seen the best of the whole talents of the country at under 17 level.
“That was the exciting thing for me, to be able to compare some of our up-and-coming players with the other counties all in one place.
“It was also exciting because it was challenging. My job was make decisions on who plays in the team.”
The players coached by Yates came from Lancashire, Cheshire, Durham and Yorkshire to play alongside each other for the week.
“We had to create the right team environment within that one week and we had a wonderful time,” said Yates.
“The weather was kind to us, the pitches were good at Loughborough University and it was a brilliant week.”
Yates’ team went on to win the competition, and he added that he was, “delighted that we won it.”