After only three years the academy set up by Matthew Maynard in son Tom’s name is already bearing rich dividends. Of the 35 young cricketers who have attended the Tom Maynard Academy, which involves a ten-day training camp in Spain with outdoor net facilities, no fewer than 29 have gone on to play either First Class or official List A cricket back in the UK.
Every February since 2014 a dozen young professionals nominated by their first class county coaches gather together under the management of Matt Maynard and his two assistant coaches – former Leicestershire, Kent and England wicket-keeper Paul Nixon and former Gloucestershire, Yorkshire and Australia all-rounder Ian Harvey – and spend time at the magnificent Desert Springs Resort in Almeria working on their technical, physical and personal development. The camp culminates in two Twenty20 matches against a Spanish XI at the La Manga complex further up the coast so that the players can put some of what they have learned or been working on into real game time practice.
The coaching trio is augmented by support from experts in specific fields, including Mark Garaway (personality profiling and its application to cricket), Jamie Dalrymple (sports psychology and team dynamics) and Dean Conway, former Glamorgan and England cricket physio, who advises on fitness, strength and conditioning.
The Academy is designed to support the young players and help them follow their individual programmes, meaning that Matt and his team need to work very closely with the counties themselves to ensure that the time is used as well as possible, sometimes to help key players who are recovering from previous injuries try to get ahead with some early outdoor practice prior to reporting for UK for pre-season.
Two of the players have gone on to be selected for the England Lions team. Surrey’s Tom Curran was part of the initial 2014 intake. The other, Ben Duckett, of Northamptonshire, a member of the 2016 group, commented: “The Tom Maynard Academy was a great couple of weeks for me. It was great to get out in the sun and train outdoors with good quality coaches. The facilities are great, it's also very relaxed and you meet new people. It helped me enormously in getting ready for the 2016 season. I’d recommend it to anyone.”
Northamptonshire have been well-represented, with a player on each of the three groups. Rob Keogh, who attended in 2014, said: “I was in the first group of lads to go to Spain. It was a great experience for me. I got to meet and train with players in the same position as me for other counties and to learn from and work with some very experienced coaches. The facilities and weather were outstanding. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to go on the academy and would love to do it again!”
Their current county captain, Alex Wakely, who has led Northamptonshire to the latter stages of both white ball competitions this summer, was a member of the 2015 group, when he used the time to put the final touches to his rehabilitation after a serious Achilles injury had ruled him out of the game for a year.
Another player to benefit from the experience is Essex pace bowler Jamie Porter. Of his time with the 2015 group, he said: “I can’t speak any higher of the Trust and the work that it does. It has helped me in so many ways. Firstly, they awarded me a grant to allow me to train in the winter before my contract started, and secondly with the trip to Spain which was extremely well run and gave me the opportunity to work with some great coaches and meet some great guys! They’ve backed me so much already in my career and you can see the help that they have been providing to all sorts of other young sports men and women.” Porter, among the leading wicket-takers in Division 2 Championship cricket, was capped by Essex at the end of his first full season in 2015, a season which began with the trip to Spain.
Warwickshire batsman Ed Pollock, who was in the 2016 group, commented: “The Academy helped develop my skills to perform at the highest level, as well as working on my belief and confidence that I could do so. It was a very enjoyable ten days that will stay with me for a long time, with some good friends made and lots of lessons learned. The coaching team are second to none, with all bases covered, providing help on anything from technique to lifestyle. A fantastic experience.”
Young Yorkshire all-rounder Jordan Thompson, part of the 2015 intake, has had a breakthrough year in Second XI cricket this summer, also taking the field as 12th man for England during the Headingley Test match against Sri Lanka in May. He reflected: “It was a wonderful experience to meet some fine cricketers and top coaches in a chilled-out environment. It was great to learn from previous and current professionals and pick their brains about their own games and how they can help develop mine. The cricket was of a really high standard throughout the trip and the activities we took part in were good fun. Anyone else who gets the chance to go should grab the opportunity with both hands because it is a privilege to be a part of.”
On behalf of the Trust, Matt Maynard said: “The Academy concept has been a real success and it’s worked out exactly as I had hoped it would. I have the opportunity to work with a dream management and coaching team, people who share my philosophy on how the game should be approached and played, and we’re fortunate that all of the counties have bought into it and supported it. They have also recommended some seriously talented cricketers, every single one of whom has contributed on the field, worked really hard off it, and mixed incredibly well to make it enjoyable. We follow their progress with a real keen interest and all of us involved with the Trust take a great deal of pride in seeing each of them go on and develop in their careers.”
The 35 players to have taken part (with the counties they were with at the time) are:
Andy Carter (Nottinghamshire), Tom Curran (Surrey), George Edwards (Surrey), Cameron Herring (Gloucestershire), Greg Holmes (Cardiff MCCU), Fynn Hudson-Prentice (Sussex), Rob Keogh (Northamptonshire), Mattie McKiernan (Lancashire), Dewi Penrhyn-Jones (Glamorgan), Aaron Thomason (Warwickshire), Jon Webb (Warwickshire)
Alex Barrow (Somerset), Bradley Erasmus (Surrey), Jack Murphy (Glamorgan), Liam Norwell (Gloucestershire), Jamie Porter (Essex), Matt Taylor (Gloucestershire), Sunny Singh (Warwickshire), Jordan Thompson (Yorkshire), Adam Tillcock (Nottinghamshire), Andrew Umeed (Warwickshire), Alex Wakely (Northamptonshire), Chris Wood (Hampshire)
Usman Arshad (Durham), Lukas Carey (Glamorgan), Ben Duckett (Northamptonshire), Jake Goodwin (Hampshire), Tom Hampton (Gloucestershire), Jamie Harrison (Durham), Ryan Higgins (Middlesex), Jonty Jenner (Sussex), Chris Jones (Surrey), Harry Podmore (Middlesex), Ed Pollock (Warwickshire), Tim Rouse (Somerset)
The Trust gratefully acknowledges the support it receives from the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.