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Youth Devlopment Officer's Report for Season 2009

During the 2009 season I enjoyed visiting all the league's grounds, to watch as many young players as possible. I expected to see a few young players playing in clubs first teams but I was extremely surprised, firstly by the numbers and secondly by the fact that young players were being allowed to perform important roles and were not just included in the eleven to make up the numbers.

However, it was rather disappointing to record that we had only one player in the Lancashire Under 19 team, Chorley's Josh Tolley who had established himself in the team in 2008. But it wasn't as if we had no county players during 2009, far from it.

At Under 17 level Tom Foster of Leyland had the honour of being captain of the North of England team, and his Leyland colleague, Henry Thompson was also the winner of a top award at the annual Lancashire County presentation evening on 23 September
Preston's Leila Patel also won an award for representing the Lancashire Women's team at Under 15 level.
But the highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Lancashire County Top Young Player of the Year Trophy to Darwen's 15-year-old Alex Davies. Many congratulations to him. You can't do much better than that.

The 2010 season is going to be extremely important for the young players of our league. The Lancashire County Committee have proposed to enter a Colts team chosen from Emerging/Academy players into a strong league and this proposal has been accepted by the members of the Northern Premier League.
The games against the Lancashire Colts XI will put our young players in the shop window and it will be an opportunity for them to experience what level they will have to achieve if they are to progress to county level. I'm sure that clubs will be quite surprised at the quality and ability of the young players that go the make up the Colts team, and young players from the Northern Premier League will be allowed to play in the emerging young players team as ong as they are not playing against their own club team.

Now that the league members have agreed to take part in this programme, I'm sure they will do so with enthusiasm. This close relationship with the County Club can only improve the chances of the league becoming a fully fledged premier league and maybe clubs from other leagues will want to join us so that their young players are seen by the "powers that be" at Old Trafford

Last year I reported the Blackpool Cricket Club's Steven Croft had been named Lancashire's Player of the Year and I'm delighted to record that this recognition of ex-Northern League players ability has continued with Chorley's Tom Smith being named Lancashire's One Day Player of the Year for 2009. Congratulations to him for a well deservedaward. That demonstrates what can be achieved by players from this league.

After a brief conversation between John Cooper, David Otway and the writer at a recent league meeting, it was suggested that an annual fixture between the MCC and a Northern League representative side at possibly Under 19 or Under 21 level could take place annually beginning in 2011. This should add something that is currently missing for the younger players in the league and giving them an opportunity of playing against and maybe joining the MCC. This will allow the MCC to continue to develop cricket in the North West.

To close, it is important that we have details and records of our top young players. All clubs are now in possession of forms to be completed with all the players relevant information. My message is a simple one: "Come on clubs, give your young players a chance to become the next Steven Croft or Tom Smith."

Clive Henderson
Youth Development Officer

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