During the winter, Yorkshire D40 team manager Owen Jervis spoke about the need to concentrate on youth development in the county’s disability structure. Now, just a couple of months into the season, he believes that plan is coming together.

Yorkshire’s D40 side won the National Quest League title in 2023. 

Of course, they wanted to defend that crown 12 months on. But, according to Jervis, it wasn’t the be all and end all. There was, in his eyes, a bigger target.

Rewind to February, he said: “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 came youngsters such as wicketkeeper-batter Curtis Sugden, an 18-year-old studying at the Yorkshire Cricket College, and a younger all-rounder Dairen Hirst-Spalding, players who it is hoped will be around for a long time.

Another 18-year-old, Owen Morris, captain of the county’s D40 second-team, is another with a bright future. He has played in the ECB Disability Premier League, a T20 competition bringing English Cricket’s best disability players together.

Morris has also been a mainstay of Yorkshire’s Quest team.

Owen Morris

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

“I said in the winter that we’d focus on the youngsters, and there are a few we’re excited about,” said Jervis. “Curtis is one, Dairen is another. He’s going to be a quality player for us.

“Owen is seasoned with us, but we forget he’s only 18 as well.

“A lot of the lads haven’t played a great deal of cricket, and we’re just starting to get into it now that the weather’s improving. We’ve been happy to get some games in during the last few weeks. 

“Some are still finding their feet, others are in sparkling form despite not playing a lot.

“Curtis has started the season really nicely with a bunch of good scores – he’s scored in almost every game and has been keeping nicely for the first team (30 and 39, added to a 50, 44 and a 3-29 in second-team cricket). 

“He’s fitted in really nicely and has adapted well.

“He’s got a learning disability, and we’re working with him to understand what that all means. But he’s been brilliant. His attitude, preparation – everything.

Curtis Sugden

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

“He plays a good level of cricket at Old Leo’s, in their first team, and he’s at the Yorkshire Cricket College. 

“Curtis moved from batting at six to opening with Kyle Clayton. They set things up, for example, against Surrey for Matt Bateman and Cameron Sweeney to do what they do.”

Another new arrival, Hirst Spalding, hasn’t quite matched Sugden’s “sparkling” start to the season, but Jervis is confident good things are to come from him: “We hold him in very high regard,” he said.

Late last month, Yorkshire’s first victory was achieved against Surrey at Higham, a seven-wicket win chasing 155.

Helping the youngsters progress is captain Matt Bateman, who starred in that game with 4-20 and 40 not out, sharing an unbroken 98 for the fourth-wicket with destructive England Deaf star Cameron Sweeney, who crashed five sixes in 53 not out.

“That win was big,” said Jervis. “It gets us going and boosts confidence.

“Jane Powell came to that game. She came for an hour and stayed for the entire game, which was good. We obviously entertained her, which was great!”

Gordon Laidlaw

Picture courtesy of Gordon Laidlaw. Former Yorkshire and England star Gordon Laidlaw is back with the team as a mentor.

Of course, however young or old a team is, once they cross that boundary rope they will be desperate to win. 

As things stand, Yorkshire are sat firmly in mid-table on 44 points – 26 behind leaders Middlesex with 30 points available for a win and four games remaining. Their next outing is against Essex at Harlow Town on Sunday.

“Our next three games are against Essex, Sussex and Wales, and I’d expect us to be competitive in all of those,” said Jervis.

But, planning for the future is not all about flooding your team and group with youngsters. Experience around them is key. Captain Bateman fits that mould: “He’s been excellent so far,” said Jervis.

They have signed Pakistan Deaf international fast bowler Adnan Ghani, who debuted against Surrey. He is a British qualified cricketer who plays in the Huddersfield League for Thongsbridge. 

“He is a genuine pace bowler with quite the repertoire, including a 10-wicket innings,” added Jervis. 

“We think he can add much more than just his skill to the group.

Picture by YCCC. Clumber Park hosted two Yorkshire Disability matches on Sunday – both wins.

“We’ve also maintained Gordon Laidlaw in a mentoring role for any player who wants help and advice. That is a huge thing for us given what Gordon has achieved and knows about the game.”

On Sunday, Yorkshire’s D40 second-team and their S9 softball side both won matches at Clumber Park near Worksop. 

Sugden starred in the D40 Tykes win over Derbyshire with three wickets and 44. 

The S9 Terriers beat Cheshire by three runs in a last-ball thriller defending a 144-target. Captain Alastair Domville hit 50 and Richard Lovedale claimed two wickets. 

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