“There’s light at the end of the tunnel with exams,” smiles Noah Kelly as the Yorkshire Academy batter looks ahead to 2024.

“Then it will be two months of cricket. I can’t wait!”

It is clearly a big summer for the left-hander. In fact, when you listen to the 18-year-old chat, it is a big year.

“It’s my final year of A-Levels,” said the Driffield Town product. 

“I’m also looking to go to Australia in September and have six months out there playing cricket and training hard. That should leave me in a good place for next season.

“That will be the first time I’ve been away. 

“It will be a great life experience and a break from education, which I’ve not had before.”

This summer will be Kelly’s third playing for Yorkshire’s Academy/Under 18s team. He debuted in 2021, the same summer he went to the prestigious Bunbury Festival.

Noah Kelly

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

He made his second-team debut last summer and started this season in the same team, scoring an unbeaten 44 from number six in the first innings of the opening round Championship draw against Lancashire at Headingley this week.

Kelly’s form in all cricket last summer – in Yorkshire colours, for Driffield and in some England representative matches – was outstanding. He scored 2,025 runs in 45 matches with 12 fifties and five hundreds.

It clearly makes him one to watch this year.

Asked what would mark a successful personal summer, he continued: “As long as I’m taking every game as it happens, that will be a success. 

“If I start looking too far ahead with wanting to break into this team or that team, that’s when I lose track of what I’m doing. Hopefully I can go well with the 18s and progress us through to some finals and play well in the seconds when I get the chance.”

In terms of team success, Yorkshire’s Academy finished last season as beaten finalists in the T20 Cup – they lost to Surrey. They also finished top of their Championship North Group for the second season running. 

“We want to go one step further in the T20s,” said Kelly, who last summer played for an England Young Lions side. “And we definitely want to push to finish top of the Championship. That would be the third year in a row we’ve done that, so that would be a brilliant effort.”

The Academy have an extensive programme of friendly fixtures during the first two months of the season, including a 50-over clash with York scheduled for a week tomorrow at Weetwood.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Yorkshire’s Academy and EPP squads for 2024. Noah Kelly, middle row fourth from right.

That could pit brothers Will and Tom Fraine against each other. 

Ex-Yorkshire senior batter Will has signed for York, while young brother Tom – also a batter – is on the county’s Academy. 

Yorkshire’s first competitive action is a three-day T20 festival on May 29-31 when six counties will descend on York and Clifton Alliance to play the entire North Group programme across the two venues.

After that, they play in the 50-over County Cup and the three-day Championship. 

More friendlies leading up to the competitive action include a T20 double header against the England Physical Disability side at Weetwood on Sunday May 19 and another T20 double header against Driffield Town at Driffield on Monday May 27.

The latter is part of Driffield’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

That is another reason why this is a big year for Kelly.

“I’m not sure who I’ll play for yet,” he chuckled. “But whoever it is, it will be good fun.”

Noah Kelly

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

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