Yash Vagadia has spoken of his honour and pride after winning the top prize in last month’s PCA Futures Awards.
The Yorkshire teenager, 19, won the Overall and Academic Progression award. Former Derbyshire wicketkeeper-batter Steve Griffiths and current Middlesex seamer Ethan Bamber were also recognised for their Business Impact and Community Spirit respectively.
Batter Vagadia, who continues to develop his off-spin, is currently in his second year of three at Durham University, where he is studying Biology and Chemistry.
He is working hard to juggle on and off-field progression, speaking of the fragility of professional sport but also his “dream” to make a success of things at Headingley.
“I didn’t expect that I’d be anywhere near getting any of the awards, never mind the full one which I got,” he said. “But I’m really honoured and proud.
“I put a lot of work into the application and my presentation.
“I got an email saying that it was the last few days for the PCA Academic Progression awards. I was in the middle of doing other applications for various online things, so I thought I’d apply for this as well.
“I managed to get into the final, which was seven of us. I had to do a presentation, describing my application and what I’d done over the last 12 months.
“I didn’t think I’d have a chance of winning because I saw that all the others had done great things. So I’m really grateful.”
Alongside his degree and cricket, Vagadia, Newcastle-born but now Hartlepool-based, has been applying for and undertaking work experience contracts in law and has also been mentoring prospective medical students.
“It is busy, but I definitely enjoy it because I’ve always got something to do,” he continued.
“It doesn’t seem as busy to me as other people may think because I do enjoy all aspects of it.
“But I have to be really disciplined with my time and maintain a schedule. If I don’t, I’ll get behind on everything, including my cricket training, gym, running, all of that stuff.”
The work experience Vagadia is currently applying for is to run through next winter.
Asked what he would want to be if cricket wasn’t a thing for him, he said: “At the moment, I’d want to be a lawyer in one of the London or Leeds offices – something like that.
“It would probably be in an area of law where my science degree really helps out. There’s patent law, which is one of the things I’m really interested in. I’ve just done a couple of days of work experience in that area, and I really enjoyed it.”
But cricket is a thing, and it is heading in the right direction.
“Just because I’m doing a lot away from the game, cricket is still my number one goal,” he said.
“It’s just about me having a back-up because a pro career in sport can be quite fragile. It can finish at any point. And if that does happen, it’s about making sure that I’m set up with something else.
“But cricket is my dream, and I am pursuing that as much as I can.”
Both Yorkshire and Durham University are flexible when it comes to Vagadia’s studies. It is similar for the likes of Jafer Chohan at Loughborough and Harry Duke in Leeds.
When county commitments allow, Vagadia plays for Durham University, and their training programme through the winter – both fitness and skills wise – is extensive.
“They have a wide timeframe for you to go and do your fitness and cricket stuff,” he said of the University.
“The training is definitely the release of my week.”
Vagadia signed his maiden rookie professional contract with Yorkshire ahead of the 2023 county summer.
While he is yet to make his competitive first-team debut, he has impressed in pre-season friendly cricket and has enjoyed success in the second team as well.
He was part of the team which won the Second XI Championship title last year and helped the team reach T20 Finals Day this year.
In all cricket in 2023, both for the seconds and for Hartlepool in the North Yorkshire South Durham Premier League, he totted up 1,278 runs in 39 matches added to 34 wickets. That included eight fifties with a best of 88 and a best of 4-46 with the ball.
His standout performance of the summer came in the penultimate Championship match of the season against Surrey at Guildford, a Yorkshire win to which he contributed scores of 56 and 81 opening the batting.
He reflected: “I felt, especially at the end of the season, like I was batting really well. I played well late on against Surrey, but I just didn’t turn those scores into the big ones I wanted.
“That’s definitely what I’ve been working towards this winter, being able to bat well and build that innings so that I don’t get carried away in that 30-50 period. It’s about sticking in and getting the kind of scores which will win games.
“That’s the most important thing. I’m desperate to win games for Yorkshire, so it’s about making sure that the scores I get aren’t just good for me but for Yorkshire as well.”
Vagadia has been opening the batting against the red ball but batting in the middle order in T20s.
“I’d love to open in the T20s as well, batting in the powerplay. But I think everybody would,” he added.
“But I feel like I’ve developed my game to a stage where I can hopefully become equally as proficient in the middle order and the top of the order.
“Hopefully my game against spin develops more, so I’ll be able to score quickly in the middle and at the end. That’s something I’ve been working on over the last few weeks because the opportunities at the top of the order in the seconds are quite minimal because we have so many great batters.
“The likes of Will Luxton and James Wharton have done particularly well in the T20s this year. Then you’ve got Dukey, Beany had a great year. It’s tough but friendly competition, and that drives everybody on.
“If I can cement my place in the middle order, hopefully over time I can move up the order in the T20s.
“But in four-day cricket, opening the batting is where I want to be at the moment. I’ve really enjoyed that challenge.
“My goal next summer is to get into the first team. But I need to be getting big hundreds. Hopefully if I do that, I’ll get a spot.”