This weekend sees the beginning of the revamped “Area” level of the Sussex Junior Cricketer Player Pathway.
Area Cricket, to date, has been the stage at which the best young club players from around the County of Sussex, between the ages of 8 and 15, are selected by Sussex Coaches for additional coaching and match-play delivered by the Sussex Cricket Board’s Area Cricket Associations.
This is the first level of representative cricket for those that may ultimately play professionally for Sussex County Cricket Club.
Further to a consultation exercise with clubs, players, coaches and local Cricket Associations, undertaken as part of a review of the existing programme undertaken over the first six months of 2014, it was agreed that a revamped programme would be launched in 2015.
Rather than four Area squads (North, South, East and West) existing throughout the year, these squads will be cut to two at the higher age groups. The two squads will be known as the East Sussex Titans and the West Sussex Spartans.
Four Area squads will remain at the youngest age groups. Selection for this years’ final squads are currently underway and will be announced in due course.
The revamped programme will ensure improved transparency in selection, eradicate overloads in the system and ultimately improve the quality of programme for all involved, in particular the players. The changes also factored in key cricket development objectives such as retaining teenage players in the game at a time of significant choice for them, and also the ongoing strengthening of club cricket.
There has been a further significant change to Sussex’s methodology in working with junior players. In collaboration with the University of Brighton, there has been a significant change of emphasis on considering a young person’s potential rather than existing performance. This methodology is being embedded in talent identification and coaching practices.
Tim Shutt, Head of Cricket Development at Sussex, said, “The feedback from the consultation exercise, which included significant contributions from Sussex’s Cricket Performance Manager Keith Greenfield and his team, indicated a clear need for change.
“The revamped system and the new talent identification and coaching methodology will all contribute to a better experience for these talented young players, enabling all involved to optimise their potential.”