Young Yorkshire cricket stars are batting for the future

Yorkshire cricket stars Andy Gale and Chris Taylor are helping to develop the county's young talent, as Paul Mackenzie reports PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDY BULMER

Bowlers don't usually like seeing the ball slapped past them but in the indoor cricket centre at Headingley Andy Gale gives a little cheer each time. And his cheers become more frequent once 10-year-old Sam Winter has got his eye in. The youngster is one of hundreds of aspiring cricketers receiving expert coaching from Andy and an all-star team of current and exprofessionals. 'It gives us a real buzz to see them develop and improve,' Andy said during a break in the training session.

Gale and team-mate Chris Taylor each launched businesses coaching young players while Taylor was playing for Derbyshire and when he returned to Yorkshire the pair joined forces. 'We are best mates away from cricket and we decided it would make sense to join our two little businesses together,' Taylor said. 'This isn't just a business though, we want to see children play cricket. It gives us a massive sense of achievement.'

'We see our role as being there for the lads that have slipped through the net. And it's working; they are catching the others up.'

And it gives the young prot�g�s, who are aged from six to 16, a chance to learn from the best - among the coaches signed up so far are Adil Rashid, Anthony McGrath and Tim Bresnan. 'Anyone can coach from a text-book but our coaches have the experience and can show young players the sort of things you only know by playing the game,' Taylor said. 'We adopt a lot of the training drills the first team use and we try to make them as challenging as possible.We try to create the situations they would face in a game so when it comes to that situation they are familiar with the pressure and know what to do.

'Yorkshire have their own youth development structure but nothing behind that.We see our role as being there for the lads that have slipped through the net. And it's working; they are catching the others up.'

The Pro Coach Cricket Academy scored its first major success in the spring when one youngster signed for Derbyshire and opening batsman Taylor added: 'The next milestone will be when one of our lads plays first team, first class cricket. The real results will be seen in five or ten years when hopefully the first team is made up of lads who have been coached by us.'

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And Yorkshire CCC have given them a vote of confidence by requesting a partnership where the academy provides all the coaching across the whole of Yorkshire under the name Pro Coach Yorkshire Cricket Coaching. 'Hopefully every child in Yorkshire will have the opportunity to come along and be coached by us,' said Taylor. 'We have this base at Headingley and activity camps throughout Yorkshire in the school holidays.We will run academies in Yorkshire for the fourth winter, starting in November and we're launching 20/20 academies in the summer.

'We are in 20 counties now and think it can go nationwide and even international.We are currently in negotiations with schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and there's no reason it can't go further.'

Taylor's also confident that this could be a big year for Yorkshire as they look to add to their 31 County Championships, the most recent of which came in 2001. 'We are going in to the season aiming to win everything and I'm sure some silverware will come our way,' he said. 'We must have one of the strongest squads and a good mix of young players and experience.We have a lot of young lads coming through and the experience of players like Michael Vaughan and Matthew Hoggard. There's massive competition for a first team place and that's really healthy.'

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