Youngsters from Bolton Lead the Way
While Lancashire's senior cricketers may have had a season to forget, the county's Under 15 team has gone from strength to strength - and a quintet of Bolton-based youngsters is leading the way.
The famous five - Haseeb Hameed, Bradley Yates, Josh Bohannon and twins Callum and Matthew Parkinson - all played in the Lancashire team which won the ECB Under 15 County Cup, defeating Hampshire by 63 runs in the final at Oakham School in August, and the progress made by the team is exciting the coaches at Old Trafford.
"They are an excellent group of players to be involved with and I'd expect four or five of that side to progress to higher things," said Steve Titchard, the Lancashire Cricket Board's Performance Manager responsible for the Emerging Players Programme. "They all know their own games and they know what's required of them."
Titchard understands as well as anyone that there are still many hurdles to be negotiated if the precociously talented young Lancastrians are are to follow players like Tom Smith and Karl Brown into the senior side. However, Farnworth Social Circle's Hameed and Bolton-born Matthew Parkinson are already members of Old Trafford's Academy and are offering signs that they may have what it takes to go on to higher things.
"Haseeb has patience and a knowledge of how to win games in either the longer or shorter formats," said Titchard. "He has a range of shots and different gears he can use according to the state of a match. He is an exceptional and very exciting talent.
"Matthew Parkinson is a leg-spinner and he's a go-to bowler who can break partnerships. He's very competitive, he has that X factor and he's the sort of person you want in your side."
But Bolton's summer of triumph in junior cricket was not confined to the county side. Bolton School's Under 15 side won the ESCA/ECB T20 National Cricket Cup at Arundel while the town's own Under 15 team rounded off the season by winning the Ainsworth Trophy at Old Trafford, beating Sefton by five wickets in the final.
Farnworth's Josh Bohannon skippered that side and he, too, has earned warm plaudits from Titchard.
"Josh is the energy of the county's Under 15 team," he said. "He's a batter but he also leads the fielding unit. He adjusts very well to the format of the game he is playing and he's very difficult to bowl at."
The success of the Bolton youngsters reflects well on their clubs - wicketkeeper Yates plays at Bradshaw while Callum Parkinson, like his brother Matthew, represented Heaton until they opted to broaden their cricketing education by moving to Urmston at the start of the season. But it is also a feather in the cap of the Lancashire Schools Cricket Association and LCB, who have provided the pathways to success in representative cricket.
"Of the five Bolton-based players in the 13-man Under 15s squad, four are in the Emerging Players Programme," said Titchard. "The LCB coaches have helped them and these promising players may now have the opportunity to follow the same development path trod by other generations of Lancashire cricketers."
Written by: Paul Edwards