Ali Maiden believes University Cricket must continue to be supported as it has a vital role to play in progressing the English game.

Maiden, Yorkshire’s new assistant coach, made all of his 10 first-class appearances for either Durham University or the British Universities side between 2002 and 2005.

As well as posting two fifties, he amassed a best of 211 not out whilst opening for Durham against Somerset at Taunton in April 2005, excelling against an attack which included four internationals in Andy Caddick, Nixon McLean, Richard Johnson and Ian Blackwell.

Maiden has been speaking about the importance of Uni structure ahead of Yorkshire’s final pre-season friendly against the students of Leeds/Bradford – a three-day game at Weetwood starting on Saturday (11am).

“I think the University structure has been fantastic for English Cricket over a number of years,” said Ottis Gibson’s number two.

“I realise there hasn’t been as many first-class matches played over the last couple of years as there once was, but I hope energy continues to be put into that system because you can’t just have one route into the professional game.

“When I played for Durham Uni, I always felt the fixtures were invaluable for counties because they get time in the middle and all that kind of thing, and it’s also a great shop window for the University players.

“The players I had around me at Durham, James Foster had just played for England and was still at University, we had Monty Panesar there, Will Jefferson, Alex Loudon.

“There was a lot of very good cricketers around, and it was a great standard.

“Playing these games, the University lads are always right up for it, the county lads always want to get into nick.

“There are stories like Graham Gooch always wanting to play against the Universities and always scoring runs. If it’s alright for someone like that, who is one of England’s greatest, it says a lot.”

Maiden continued: “Who knows where players come from.

“County Academies finish at 18 now, which means you have to make early decisions on players. And the Uni structure is a great opportunity for people who fall out of the county game to go and prove people wrong.

“There’s been a lot of research done about a lot of the elite players suffering adversity at some point in their early career.

“A lot of them might get released by counties and go and prove people wrong by playing for the Universities.

“I’m sure this structure still has a place in developing future England players, and we have to support it as counties.”

Yorkshire could field three current England internationals in Dom Bess, Harry Brook and Dawid Malan.

Matthew Fisher will not be involved having only just arrived back from Test duty in the West Indies.

Last April, the two sides played out a high-scoring draw at Headingley when Tom Kohler-Cadmore scored a first-innings century before student pair Taylor Cornall and Josh de Caires did the same in reply.

They both went on to play county cricket for Lancashire and Middlesex during the summer.

Who knows, this weekend, more names could come to prominence and even follow the Bess, Brook, Malan and Fisher into international cricket.

Information for those planning to attend

  • There is no parking at Weetwood for spectators. Please do not to park at Weetwood Hall Hotel as you may be fined
  • No alcohol will be permitted on site but there will be refreshments available
  • Spectator toilets will be available in the pavilion via reception
  • Please bring your own seating

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