Head of Talent Pathway, Daryn Smit, recently sat down with Club Media to provide an extensive update on the Derbyshire Pathway system, as we approach the end of the 2022 campaign.
Smit covered a wide variety of topics and age groups, including recent success throughout the Pathway, domestic and international opportunities for Derbyshire’s young talents and more.
ECB Super Fours
The ECB Super Fours competition took place last month and saw Derbyshire’s Archie Harrison captain the Midlands side to the Twenty20 final, he was joined by fellow Pathway player Yousaf bin Naeem, with Smit himself as Head Coach.
The competition sees the best young players from across the country placed into regional teams: North, South, Midlands and London & East. Harrison led the side well, scoring one half-century, averaging 37 with the bat, while managing an economy rate of just 5.41 runs-per-over with the ball.
Smit says that Harrison’s performance at the ECB Super Fours was a prime example of the mentality he wants Derbyshire’s youngsters to have: A desire to stand out and make an impact whenever you have the opportunity.
“Archie led the team brilliantly through the week,” he said.
“It’s always difficult as a captain, when you meet guys for the first time in a team which gets thrown together with players from different teams, but such is the nature of Archie that he did it phenomenally well.
“It showed in the results and the way the guys gelled and pulled together, we were unfortunate not to win the final but it was a great experience for our players, because they were able to benchmark themselves against some of the best young players in the country.
“The competition is all about creating that ‘best vs best’ environment, where you can test yourself against the best. Some of the players there have rubbed shoulders with international players in first-class changing rooms and you have Young Lions coaches there watching, so it’s a proper professional environment.
“Our big message to the players is don’t just want to be selected for these teams, when you get this opportunity go out there and be a match winner.”
First team exposure
Pathway products Harrison and Mitch Wagstaff have been a part of the first team squad for the Royal London Cup campaign, with the former making his List A debut against Worcestershire.
Smit says the Pathway is being based on the first team approach, in order to make Derbyshire’s youngsters feel comfortable when they make the step up into professional cricket, and he wants to see the pair take their opportunities in Mickey Arthur’s side.
“My role is to create an environment which is as close to the first team as possible, so when the players step up, they haven’t come from an amateurish, laid back changing room into a professional one.
“I think I’ve now got that environment right within our academy group, which aids with the transition, so when they come into the first team changing room, it’s not such a massive group.
“The message for Archie [Harrison] and Mitch [Wagstaff] is when they come into the first team environment, go out there and show why you’ve been selected, go and show why you’re playing in the Super Fours or with the Young Lions, be a match winner. Grab every opportunity with both hands and show what you’re about.”
Pathway graduate, Sam Conners, recently earned his maiden call-up to the England Lions squad for their warm-up fixture against South Africa, which ended in an innings victory for the hosts.
Conners, 23, put in a match-winning performance on the final day, claiming figures of 4-25 at Canterbury to secure the win, while Wagstaff has also enjoyed international recognition, top-scoring with a first-innings 53 for Young Lions Invitational XI against Sri Lanka under 19s at Loughborough.
England under 19s face Sri Lanka in a Test series starting on Sunday, with the second Test to be played at The Incora County Ground from Sunday 28 August, and Wagstaff will be hoping he’s done enough to earn an opportunity at his home venue.
Smit has praised Derbyshire’s young internationals, but says making an impact at that level is the goal.
“Sam Conners didn’t just go to the England Lions to make up the numbers, he’s had a good season for us and he’s not just happy to be there, he wanted to perform and win the match for the team.
“Mitch Wagstaff has been selected for a warm-up game against Sri Lanka under 19s, which is deserved recognition for him, but it’s not just about going there happy to have been rewarded with the opportunity. Go there and stake a claim for a full Test spot.
“Every single time you step on the field, it’s an opportunity to push for higher honours and I know Mitch is well motivated and driven, so I have no doubt he will give a good showing of himself.”
Recent success across the age groups
Further down the game groups, Derbyshire’s under 12s recently won the Shrewsbury Festival, while the under 13s and 15s were victorious at Eastbourne.
For Smit, fostering a winning culture at all stages of development is key, as it will aid the players in being able to compete with any opposition once they get to the first team.
“Our short-term focus is on the players who are closest to the first-team, but that healthy pipeline all the way down is huge, because it gives us an idea of the strength of our Pathway.
“Our under 11s and 12s in particular are giving us a lot of confidence and enthusiasm about where we are going over the next few years, there’s so much exciting talent there and some of the performances have been phenomenal, both individually and as a team.
“One of the big things for me is that we don’t want to just be happy as county age group cricketers in the system, that’s not good enough, we want winners and we need to develop winning cultures, that’s starting to happen a little quicker than we thought.
“We’re changing the mindset of players and parents, we’re not happy to just make up the numbers, we want to compete and win every game we can.
“When you look at the first team now, it’s really obvious there’s something psychological when we play against our ‘noisy neighbours’, as if they have a mental advantage over us. For me, that starts at a young age, and if we can start that in the Pathway and begin dominating and beating these big teams, by the time the players have come through our Pathway, they have mindset of beating them already and it filters through into the professional game.”
Derbyshire CCC Boys age group observation days
DCCC are now inviting nominations for County age group observation days which will be taking place in September. The process for nominations has been sent to clubs and cricket playing schools in the county and players require nominations from their respective coaches/heads of cricket. Please contact your club/school coach directly if you wish to enquire if they will be nominating you for a trial this year. Nominations close on 25th August.
One-day cricket is back in the height of summer!
Derbyshire compete in enthralling 50-over cricket this August, including the visit of Yorkshire to Queen’s Park. Find out more and book tickets for all home matches now.