Owen Jervis says defending the D40 National Quest League title will not be the number one goal for Yorkshire in 2024 as work continues at pace to develop the county’s Disability structure. 

Jervis, the Quest team manager, has been looking ahead to the forthcoming summer and beyond, revealing that the primary focus will be on developing youth.

Nevertheless, Jervis believes the Quest team still has a realistic chance of defending their title under new captain Matt Bateman.

“It will be tough, but we’ll be competitive and we’ll do the best we can,” he said. “But it’s not my primary aim.

“I haven’t been shopping for players who would absolutely win us that competition. It’s about what the next few years looks like.

“In my mind, we set out with a five-year plan just after Covid. Playing wise, we’ve achieved all of it in two years. In terms of the development of the structure and pathway, we’re still a work in progress.

“I’m really excited by that challenge. The trophies and awards will come as a consequence of having a good structure.”

Jervis has signed four new players, including 17-year-old wicketkeeper batter Curtis Sugden, who is on Yorkshire’s Cricket College and plays his league cricket for Old Leos in Leeds.

Curtis Sugden

Picture by YCCC. New signing Curtis Sugden, a Yorkshire Cricket College student.

“There’s definitely been a strategic intent to get more younger players into our system,” continued Jervis. “It’s been a happy coincidence that they’ve come to me rather than me having to go shopping for them, and we have enough Under 18s to be able to fill a team.

“I’m very conscious that you can build a team to be successful in the short-term, but sustainment is far more important.”

Yorkshire field three teams in their Disability structure, two in the D40 category and one at S9.

They are the Quest League team and the Pursuit League team, both being hardball teams and the latter being the county’s second team. The S9 team plays in a softball competition.

Jervis said: “We have a number of Under 18s and 19s in our Quest team already, and the four players I’ve just signed will likely start in the Pursuit team, but having seen them in training they will progress quite quickly into the Quest team, I’m sure.”

It is heartening to hear Jervis speak about Yorkshire’s recent success helping to raise awareness amongst players who want to get involved, with the ECB’s Disability Premier League and England’s recent Learning Disability and Physical Disability tours to South Africa and India also having a positive effect. England’s Deaf side are also due to face India later this year. 

There has been – and will be – plenty of Yorkshire involvement in those national squads.

“The more successful you are as a county, the tougher it becomes because your better players start getting called away for international duty, and you have to fill in the gaps,” said Jervis.

Owen Morris

Picture by YCCC. Owen Morris, captain of Yorkshire’s D40 Pursuit team.

“Our chances of success over the next few years will depend a lot on the commitment and development from other players.

“We’re not about short term-ism.

“Winning the trophy last year was fantastic – an amazing achievement which we were all delighted with. But it’s not the be all and end all for us.

“Sustainment of Disability Cricket in Yorkshire over time is much more important.”

Alastair Domville will again lead the S9 team, who won three and lost three of their six matches in last year’s Northern Group.

Owen Morris will also continue to lead the D40 Pursuit team, who won one, lost four and had the other abandoned in their North and Midlands group last year.

Morris, at 18, is the youngest captain across all D40 county cricket.

“One of the things which lends itself to long-term success is that I think we’ll be more competitive in the Pursuit League than we were last year,” said Jervis.

Jacob Grimes

Picture by YCCC. All-rounder Jacob Grimes is aiming to move through from S9 level to the county’s D40 Quest team.

“That’s going to feed into the Quest team.”

One of the key players in that Pursuit team will be all-rounder Jacob Grimes, who could well in the near future become the first Yorkshire player to progress all the way from the S9 team to the D40 Quest team. 

Jervis added: “If a young lad who’s 17-years-old comes to me at the same time as a bloke with two seasons left in him, I’m going to want to invest my time more in the one we can show a pathway to.

“Disability Cricket is life-changing for these athletes. A lot of them come in shy and not confident but come out the other side being able to build relationships with peoples. There’s a whole programme behind what we do on the field to try and build confidence.

“All we can do is provide the environment for people to succeed. 

“If that brings trophies, fantastic. If it doesn’t, I’m not too worried as long as the players grow as people.”

While Jervis is team manager for the Quest team, he also acts as an assistant coach to head coach Callum Robertson.

Owen’s son, Alex, the England fast bowler and Quest League linchpin, will also double up as a Pursuit team coach alongside Darren Spooner. Russ Ingram continues as head coach of the S9 side.

Jervis has also pointed to the support of Yorkshire president Jane Powell, whose day job is the ECB’s performance manager for England Disability Cricket. 

Equally, the support of Donna Staniland and Shakil Manir, the Yorkshire Cricket Board’s head of operations and disability manager respectively is key, he says. 

Winter training has been taking place at Cuckney CC and Bradford Park Avenue.

The Quest League title defence begins against Middlesex at Higham CC in Barnsley on Sunday April 28.

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