Down the Pathway: Daryn Smit on first team exposure

Wednesday 26th August 2020
& News
Written by Stephen Martin

In the second instalment of our ‘Down the Pathway’ series, Head of Talent Pathway, Daryn Smit, discusses how the Academy players are getting exposure to the first team, and the opportunities that may be on the horizon for them.

As with any Academy coach, one key remit of Smit’s role is to get players into the first team, and like the first XI squad, Derbyshire’s Academy have been training at Repton School’s sports facilities since their return from lockdown.

Aside from simply using the same training ground, the arrangement has presented some Academy players with the opportunity to take part in practice matches and get in front of first team coaches and players, which has garnered positive feedback.

Through Alex Hughes, Harvey Hosein and Sam Conners, Derbyshire have named at least one Academy graduate in their starting XI in every Bob Willis Trophy fixture so far, and with a number of developing talents already under the microscope, Smit has emphasised that more opportunities may not be far away.

“Our Academy boys were involved in the first team practice matches at Repton School, which was a great opportunity for them to rub shoulders with some of their heroes,” said Smit.

“To take the field with them has been superb, but it also gives our lads a chance to test their own skills and see where they’re at, relative to where they want to be and what it takes to be a professional cricketer.

“The thing that’s really made me feel upbeat, is that our Academy players have not just made up the numbers, they’ve put in some really good performances.

“The comments from the coaches, as well as the first team players, have been so positive. That really goes to show how well our boys are doing at the moment. We’ve got a small squad at Derbyshire, so I’m trying to show the boys that their opportunity might be closer than they anticipate.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have any Second XI cricket this year, but certainly next season there will be plenty of opportunities for our Academy players to play there and who knows, for someone like Nick Potts, who is on the radar for England Under-19s, he might only be one or two injuries away from bowling in the first team.”

Having only retired at the end of last season, Smit began his new role fresh from working with Head of Cricket, Dave Houghton, and first team coaches Steve Kirby and Mal Loye, as well as much of the current squad.

Through his Second XI captaincy over the last couple of years, the Head of Talent Pathway knows first-hand just how involved the trio are in the development of youngsters within the Academy, and their commitment to giving young players a chance.

Smit believes the close relationship between the Academy and the first team is crucial for future development, of both the players and himself as a coach.

“Having Dave Houghton, Steve Kirby and Mal Loye around is not just massive for the players, but for me as someone who’s new to the role,” he added.

“I’m trying to learn as a coach, so to be able to learn from them has been massively helpful, and for the players to be exposed to that kind of coaching from people with county and international experience, it’s absolutely superb.

“The feedback from the ECB has been so positive, with where we are as a pathway and the players getting some high-quality coaching.”

Vitality Blast is back! Derbyshire Falcons return to Twenty20 action with ten North Group matches in search of the knockout stages. Follow every game live on our match centre at Derbyshire Falcons: Underestimated No More.

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