Wicket Keeping Development Programmes

The Trust has funded two different but complementary youth wicketkeeping development programmes, each for six years, with Surrey and Hampshire.

Hampshire Wicketkeeping Development Programme

Hampshire Cricket Board’s wicketkeeping programme, funded by the Ben Williams Trust, aims to standardise the approach to wicketkeeping development across the County.

When the programme was launched, Hampshire’s Performance Cricket Development Officer, Raj Maru, explained: “Wicketkeeping is a specialist position which has been much overlooked in the past, but the appointment of Bobby Parks as the County’s wicketkeeping coach and the funding from The Ben Williams Trust will enable us to standardise the manner in which keeping is coached, and give all cricketers within the District and County squads the opportunity to benefit from Bobby’s professional experience.  Bobby running these sessions will mean that all our coaches and players would be coached in a similar fashion with no confusion when players move up through the age groups and (hopefully) to the County First XI.”   (Picture with acknowledgement to the Hampshire Cricket Board.)

The programme has been a huge success.  In its first phase, all wicketkeepers from both boys and girls county squads benefited from 9 hours of specialist coaching.  As this was the first time many of the players had received specialist wicketkeeping coaching, county coaches saw a vast improvement in performance during the 2009 season.

In the second phase, wicketkeeping development skills were cascaded into district cricket in the County through head coaches.  Bobby delivered hands on training to the coaches for the 10s to 17s age groups, before running three sessions for the district keepers themselves.  By the start of the 2010 season Bobby had passed on his professional experience to approximately 40 young keepers.  The programme’s success was evidenced by the number of keepers who won fielding awards for the 2010 season.

The success of the programme has continued into the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons, with the standard of keeping continuing to improve as the longer term benefits of the programme become evident.

Trust Chairman Phil Williams said: “We are attracted to the Hampshire Board programme because it involves children across a broad range of age groups, and we feel that the coaching of coaches is a particularly good way to make the most of our financial support.  We are delighted to be able to support this initiative and help raise the profile of wicketkeeping in Hampshire Youth Cricket.”

For further information see the Hampshire Cricket Board website.

Surrey Wicketkeeping Development Programme

The Surrey programme had a different emphasis, and aims to provide high level one-to-one coaching for keepers with the potential to play in the First Class game.

The Trust first funded an intensive winter training programme for two young Surrey wicket-keepers in 2007/8.  You can find a further interview on the Surrey Cricket website – just click on the Surrey TV link and enter “Ben Williams Trust” in the search box.  The boys received a full technical, tactical, mental and physical training regime that was delivered by the Surrey Academy coaching staff.

IMG_0762The most beneficial part of the programme was the two young players receiving their technical wicket-keeping coaching from Surrey first team keeper Jonathan Batty and the former England captain Alec Stewart.  The programme was very successful, and the formula has been repeated each year since.

Attendees have included Rory Burns and Michael Burgess.  Rory was awarded a two year contract with Surrey in December 2010.  He made three centuries in Second XI Championship cricket and was awarded the 2010 Walter Lawrence Trophy in honour of the 230 he scored for MCC Universities against Oxford MCCU.  In 2011, he made an appearance as England’s substitute fielder against India at the Oval.  He made his first-class debut in 2012, scoring his maiden Championship century and playing a major part for the whole summer.

Michael Burgess was awarded the Graham Kersey prize for the best ‘keeper in the 2009 Bunbury Festival at Charterhouse, together with one of the four David English scholarships which saw him spending a week with the full England squad at Loughborough.  He was also selected for the England U15 squad and is seen here collecting his award from David English.  He played for the County 2nd XI in 2012, and in 2013 trained with the Darren Lehman Academy in Adelaide.

Said Michael “I am very grateful for the coaching I have received.  I have benefitted hugely from the expertise of the Surrey keepers and this would not have been possible without the help and support of the Trust”.

In 2012/13, the programme focused on U15 Ollie Pope, who undertook an intensive winter programme that saw him work on all aspects of wicketkeeping.  This helped him immensely when he toured South Africa with the Academy team at Easter, where he experienced the competitive element of touring against strong South African provincial sides.  He continued to develop through the summer and was a main contributor to the success of the County U15 age group side that won the National Championship.  In addition to the specialist training with Ollie, Surrey coaches this year for the first time worked with wicketkeepers in the lower age groups. Jeremy Greaves with continued help from Alec Stewart gave the players expert coaching and teaching support.