Reform to perform

The merit of the England Performance Programme lies in its ability to identify and nurture young talent while understanding that one size does not fit all.

On the surface sifting through 41 players and dividing them into three different categories seems a rather lengthy and costly exercise.

But if it improves England’s chances of becoming the premier side in the world at five-day and one-day cricket then it has to be a worthwhile exercise.


In many ways the EPP system duplicates what county Academies should be doing but, with the exception of Durham, the talent does not seem to be coming through despite the funding handed out.

“The selectors obviously want to keep an eye on Amjad although he, like so many bowlers, is a walking casualty ward.”

Bob Willis
Quotes of the week

The proliferation of Kolpak and overseas players in our county game means that young talent is not on view often enough so the England and Wales Cricket Board is forced to pick up the slack.

Their intervention is welcome. Given the current domestic set-up, it has to be a good thing for the ECB to exert greater control.

It is far more satisfactory for these EPP players to be monitored over the winter months rather than force them to fend for themselves and rely on picking up coaching jobs abroad.

The off-season is an important time, particularly for less mature players who can quite easily fall into bad habits in the off-season unless they are monitored on a regular basis.


I don’t see any major surprises among the four players named in ‘A Group’ – Mark Davies, Amjad Khan, Stephen Moore and Michael Carberry – although I’d have considered Michael Lumb as well.

Fitness permitting, Durham’s Davies would have probably have forced his way into a squad by now and there are plenty of people out there willing to extol the virtues of Amjad Khan, who played his only Test in Trinidad in March.

The selectors obviously want to keep an eye on him although he, like so many bowlers, is a walking casualty ward.

ECB performance director David Parsons is right to stress that guidance from former players like Graham Gooch and Dennis Lillee are an invaluable part of the process.

Their advice can’t create miracles, though. England bowling coach Ottis Gibson stressed last week how difficult it is to unearth and nurture fast bowling talent in this country so we can’t expect Lillee to turn the likes of Jade Dernbach or Boyd Rankin into genuinely fast Test bowlers.

I’ve never thought that the tier below the England team has done as well when it comes to producing players as the Australian academy but these things have lean years and they have fruitful years. For now it’s a great experience for these players to be working with such greats.


A lot was made over the weekend of Andrew Strauss’ refusal to say whether he would go on next year’s tour of Bangladesh.

I suppose England don’t want to offend Bangladesh while negotiations about the proposed day-night Test match at Lord’s in May remain ongoing.

Perhaps it would be far more honest to come out and say so. Everybody would then know where they stood if England said ‘these are the players we are going to rest…’

But I think too much is being made of this at present. An arduous winter lies ahead in South Africa. It’s far better to focus on that for now and leave the Bangladesh issue for another day.

This Article is taken from Sky Sports.Thanks.

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