Wealth of talent under our noses

2009-10-28 00:00

GRAHAM Ford is a huge asset to cricket in KwaZulu-Natal for many reasons but perhaps most of all for his ability to identify talent in young cricketers and to develop it. Ford’s tenure as coach of the Dolphins is timeous, as the development of young cricketers in the province requires urgent attention.

Ford is not afraid to bring young cricketers into the franchise if he believes that they have potential and this approach is just what the Dolphins and KZN Inland have lacked over the past few seasons. If Ford believes that you are a cricketer with talent, he will give you a chance and back you 100%. As an inexperienced player this gives one’s confidence a real boost.

Ford did this to great effect some years ago when he was coach of Natal­. Many of us youngsters did not have much belief in our own ability. However, knowing that Ford, our coach, and Malcolm Marshall, our captain, saw our potential gave us the security to play our natural game.

We didn’t always perform well to start with but we were never made to feel as though we had only a game or two to prove ourselves. Recognition and confidence is vital for young cricketers trying to make cricket their career.

Ford has obviously recognised something in St Charles schoolboy Matthew Hulett that has not come to the attention of KZN Inland selectors. Hulett has been drafted into the Dolphins squad, admittedly as 12th man, but what an opportunity for him. It’s notable that Hulett has not played a game for the Inland team nor has he received an invitation to practise with the squad.

Some clarification on Inland cricket’s selection strategies would be useful. Are they results driven or do they recognise their potential to be the perfect breeding ground for young cricketers in this area.

With the talent being produced by schools in Pietermaritzburg there should be no reason for the Inland team not to be made up of young cricketers who are hungry for success. KZN Inland is where these cricketers can get their first taste of playing first-class or limited-overs cricket.

The excuse that there are no youngsters putting up their hands for selection is a tired one. Looking at results of school and club cricket fixtures in Pietermaritzburg, this is simply not true. Chad Baron, who has performed well at club level, made his debut for Inland this weekend and scored 100 — his selection deserves to be applauded but surely there are others.

Club cricket remains a challenge however, where really only three teams compete. This is hardly an arena for a young player to be noticed. When weaker teams are being bowled out for under 50 runs it’s impossible for a talented youngster to show what he is made of.

It is essential that the standard of cricket in Pietermaritzburg improves from club level upwards, if there is to be any future for the game here. Talented schoolboy cricketers need to have a clear career pathway from school cricket to club cricket and then into the KZN Inland mix.

If we continue to fail in this area our schools will simply continue to be a nursery for talented cricketers who will go on to play their cricket in other provinces.

Youngsters need to be encouraged by KZN Inland to attend practices and to believe that their potential will be recognised. There is a wealth of talent right under our noses. If Ford can recognise it, why can’t we?

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