Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Rhodes: New Road Academy Conveyor Belt Has Important Role

Rhodes: New Road Academy Conveyor Belt Has Important Role

Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes has highlighted the key role of the Worcestershire Academy in producing a conveyor belt of players to replace anyone who may be tempted by the "huge money" he says that certain other counties can offer.

After the loss of several senior players at the end of the 2009 campaign and a reduced playing budget, Rhodes recognised the need for a three stage plan – with the first part centred on concentrating "heavily on development".

That is starting to bear fruit as was demonstrated by the potential shown by the likes of Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Tom Fell, Joe Leach and Ben Cox last season.

Another part of the plan – signing key players for longer periods – has also been evident with 10 of the 11 players who penned new contracts since the start of August having come through the Academy.

Rhodes said: "After we had the fall-out when we lost some of our high profile players and also reduced our playing budget, it became very clear to me that we needed a three stage plan – and the first stage was to concentrate heavily on development.

"We got really involved in the scholarship system at Malvern (College) as well as heavy emphasis of coaching from our level four senior coaches with the Academy and we set about trying to develop our own (players).

"Slowly that is bearing some fruit now in the first team and second team but once we got it rolling, and people recognised we were onto a good thing and producing good players, then we seem to have attracted more and more.

"Now there are some fantastic Academy cricketers coming through who hopefully will be professionals.

"Damian D'Oliveira (late Academy Director) was very much a part of it all in setting it up and Elliott Wilson (new Academy coach) will be a fine acquisition to take things forward from there."

Rhodes added "Inevitably at times you lose good players because the way cash and pay structures are at certain counties, it means they can afford to offer some huge money.

"So we are going to lose some players. We are trying to avoid that with stage two which is signing our better players for longer periods.

"But I think inevitably you are going to lose some so as long as we've got that conveyor belt producing cricketers, then we will have some reasonable ones to replace – as has been proved with Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Tom Fell now.

"People are seeing good players, like Joe Leach, but below them are Ed Barnard and Joe Clarke, who are products of our Academy, England Under-19 internationals, who to be perfectly honest look as though they are cricketers ready to play first team cricket.

"We are producing, we've got some in the Academy who I think will be useful cricketers, and long may that continue."