Assistant coach Ali Maiden says the presence of Academy players around Yorkshire’s first-team environment is likely to increase this summer and believes the strong links created between the two groups is a win-win for everybody.

Maiden, along with fellow senior coaches such as Kabir Ali, Tom Smith and James Lowe, have once again been working closely with the county’s teenagers through the winter. 

Maiden has been working with the up and coming batters. 

But, a change from the norm is set to happen this summer with regards to 12th man duties at first-team home games.

“What we’ve done is ask Jimmy Martin (head of the performance pathway) to send out all the home fixtures to the lads and ask for availability for 12th man duties,” said Maiden.

“We had Isaac Light with us last year at Scarborough for a game, for example. 

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Yorkshire assistant coach Ali Maiden.

“That means that rather than taking a Will Luxton out of a second-team game and him missing that, we were able to get one of the younger lads involved.

“He’d do the 12th man duties, and I’d do some batting work with him in the morning and at lunchtime.

“Hopefully we can have that more regularly this summer, and that will help everybody. 

“If it’s a seamer, Ottis and Kabs can go and do some work with them. We can give something back to them, and it helps them being around the lads as well.”

Maiden has enjoyed his work with the county’s young players, describing it as “hugely important”.

He said: “Goughie made it clear that when I started, my role was as first-team batting coach. That’s my priority.

“But I feel, as any first-team coach does, that you have a responsibility to help develop the next crop of players. And the more time you spend in that area, the more you can add value and the easier it makes the transition for those players when they push through to the seniors.

“Last winter, I started helping out pre-Christmas when we’re pretty quiet – we don’t do a huge amount of cricket with the senior lads at that time of year. 

“I would do once a week with the batters, and that’s happened again this winter. Kabir does it with the bowlers as well, Tom too.

“Not only does it help them as players, it helps us develop as coaches.” 

He continued: “I’ve been generally going in on a Monday night. 

“They run a really good programme, and there’s a lot of one to ones. 

“I will usually see the older players in that group. Noah Kelly, Will Bennison and Jawad Akhtar. They’re all good players. 

Noah Kelly

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Noah Kelly.

“On the flipside, we get a bit of help from the Academy coaches as well given the volume of balls the lads in the firsts want to bat against. Each session – through the summer and winter – we have a pathway coach with us.

“It helps us make it clear to the lads below the senior group on how we want them to play, and hopefully it all helps to join the whole system up. It’s something that I’ve always seen as being very useful and a hugely important part of the role.”

As Maiden mentioned, he has been impressed with the likes of Akhtar, Bennison and Kelly. 

“Last year, we had an intra-squad game between the end of our 50-over comp and the red ball stuff starting again,” he continued. “We asked for some of the Academy lads to come in and get us to two teams.

“Noah opened the batting with Lythy, and he actually got hit on the wrist by Ben Mike and had to go off. But he came back on, recovered from it and did well.

“For him to have the opportunity to open with Lythy was fantastic.

“We have also just started getting some of the Academy bowlers who have some time during the week in to practice with the seniors.”

A number of the Academy players caught the eye last summer, be it in their Under 18s cricket, for the seconds, their clubs or even national representative cricket.

Kelly was the obvious example, scoring 1,740 runs in all cricket last summer.

“The challenge for all the young cricketers who’ve done well at that level is when potential turns to expectation,” added Maiden. 

Isaac Light

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Isaac Light bats in the nets amidst 12th man duties at Scarborough last September as Yorkshire beat Derbyshire.

“You might have people saying, ‘Look at him, he’s a good player’. Then, that’s where things are different. There’s a different expectation.

“That’s how it is with Beany in the Championship. People will be expecting him to get 1,000 runs this summer.

“There’s some really good players in that batting group, Noah’s done well, and Will and Jawad as well.

“I haven’t seen a lot of the bowlers, but by the sounds of it there’s a lot of talent. 

“With all these things you just never know. The ball is in their court. You give them the opportunity, but you don’t know which one will take it. It’s a tough challenge getting through to be a professional.

“But they’re doing well at the moment. Hopefully that continues.”

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