Elliot Wilson is delighted with how Worcestershire’s Academy players coped with the demands of red ball cricket, and what is required as individuals and as a team to be successful.
The Academy retained their ECB Under-18 County Championship title last summer and Academy Coach Wilson was happy with the approach and attitude of the squad in again going through the three-day campaign unbeaten.
Those experiences can only stand players in good stead if they eventually progress up the cricketing ladder and six of last year’s Academy group will again be part of the 2023-2024 intake.
Wilson, reflecting on the season as he prepares for the winter schedule, said: “Huge satisfaction because it was intentional to have a focus on the approach, the attitude, the habits, the behaviours that are required to play the game for long periods of time.
“The group were again fantastic in the consistency they showed throughout the whole of the year and how they approached stuff.
“As a consequence, we had a number of good days as the summer went on and the lads had lots of highs and it was very pleasing to watch it unfold.
“You turn up for a three-day game and, if you are more comfortable than the opposition to be winning the game at five to six on day three, and you stay in the game for a period of time, than more often than not your patience outdoes the opposition.
“They get impatient, and when people get impatient they make mistakes, and we have massively benefitted from that. It has been thoroughly enjoyable to watch the lads go about their multi-day cricket over the summer.”
Wilson says the squad responded to the additional challenges thrown up over three days compared to T20 or 50 over matches.
He said: “Most of the diet is win or lose cricket, there is a formula to that cricket normally, the way those games unfold in terms of powerplays, and how the game unfolds. It is pretty formulaic.
“In three-day cricket, it changes from opposition to opposition, venue to venue, surface to surface, session to session, overhead conditions.
“Your job over 15 days of three-day cricket (five matches) is to adapt and evolve better than the opposition rather than just turning up and saying ‘well, this is what we do, and we are going to do the same thing every day.’
“It’s about ‘what do the team need from me as an individual now’ over the next two hours.
“We try to recognise things in our three-day blocks of cricket which aren’t necessarily the highlights in terms of someone takes a five-for or scores a hundred.
“It is more to do with recognising the partnerships of 150-200 balls, the individuals that bat for 150-200-250 balls, the bowlers that bowl long spells with low economy rates, and try to highlight the importance of those things because that is the way multi-day cricket is played.
“You’ve got to be prepared to bat for 200 balls, be prepared to stack dot balls, top of off stump for long periods of time and, if you do that, to a certain point, you will get a boatload of success.
“The lads have had their success by being prepared to do that a bit better than the opposition we played against.”
Four Academy products in Harry Darley, Cameron Jones, Olly Cox and Rehaan Edavalath all tasted senior cricket for Worcestershire the first time during the 2023 season.
Darley and Cox played in the T20 match against New Zealand, Jones was handed his debut in the Metro Bank One Day Cup game with Somerset and Edavalath was selected for the County Championship game against Derbyshire.
Wilson said: “Those are all great recognitions that the club continues to support and nurture its home grown talent, and provide opportunities for them to find out where they are at and are all about.”
As regards performances for the Academy, Wilson said: “Harry Darley was the outstanding performer in terms of his outcomes. He bowled exceptionally well with the new ball, in the middle of the innings, at the end of the innings.
“He was the difference in a lot of games in that he knocked over a couple of batters at the top and he had the ability to pick wickets up during the day.
“But outside of Harry, there were so many significant contributions from so many different cricketers.
“It’s was pleasing Josh Leach got a five-for in the first (three-day) game against Somerset, Louis Hursthouse, a 16-year-old, fell just one run short of a century against Northamptonshire, Reeve Evitts, Joe Stanley scored hundreds, Cameron Jones took valuable wickets.
“It was really nice to see a lot of individuals contribute rather than, as we see so often, one or two individuals playing outstandingly, and we win games based on individuals performing rather than a real group of people coming together and contributing.”