County news May 7, 2008

Leicestershire push young England players

Cricinfo staff


Leicestershire's England Under-19 player James Taylor will be available when he has completed his A levels in early July © Getty Images
 
With a number of counties under attack for packing their sides with Kolpak players - last week Geoff Miller, the head selector, was at Edgbaston where Warwickshire and Leicestershire fielded ten South Africans between them - David Smith, the Leicestershire chief executive, has hit back.

Smith said that Leicestershire had identified the need to bring on the best young English talent and, as a result, had a policy of including England-qualified under 25s.

"The make-up of our core group of senior professionals this season has been the subject of some comment recently in the media," Smith said. "What has received less comment is the number of young England-qualified cricketers that we have played so far in line with our stated policy. In each of our three Championship games to date, Leicestershire have selected more England qualified cricketers aged 25 and under than each of our respective opponents, averaging over five per game.

"In recent seasons, Durham have demonstrated that the tactical use of non-qualified, senior role model professionals, such as Dale Benkenstein, can be highly effective and beneficial and there need not be a contradiction between playing non-qualified senior players and developing cricketers for England. That is the same path we at Leicestershire have chosen to take."

Smith insisted that young players who show promise in the 2nd XI will be given every opportunity. "With four ECB Level 4 coaches we have one of the most highly qualified coaching teams in the country aimed at developing young cricketers and giving them every opportunity of making the grade in first-class cricket. Our core group of senior players will be rotated over the season."