The Academy week is one of the highlights of the junior cricket calendar. The arrival of our level 3 coach, Graeme Rickman, from the UK is awaited with great anticipation as he brings new techniques, challenges and games for the participants.
Graeme’s visit this year had an added ingredient in that seven of our local coaches underwent the first part of the level II coaching course with him immediately before the Academy itself. The continuing growth of interest in junior cricket encouraged seven of us to start the next level of training in order to improve our skills.
Having spent two days of intensive course work, both theoretical and practical, we were well prepared for the juniors’ arrival at the Walferdange ground.
The maximum number of 40 young players, ranging from six-year old beginners to 17-year old regulars, spent five full days, concentrating on improving their overall physical as well as specific cricketing skills. These varied between the more basic skills of catching and fielding to the more complex tasks such as wicket keeping. Our new bowling machine, used at the Academy for the first time, proved an invaluable tool for Graeme Rickman, to help the older batsmen improve their technique and the younger ones to have a first taste of faster bowling under close supervision in the nets.
Games were another means of testing the newly learnt skills in a slightly more competitive environment. Continuous cricket, diamond cricket and the pavilion game were always in constant demand.
The final Saturday attracted special interest as eight of the improving younger participants were selected to play in the senior game “in the middle”. A 20 overs a-side match, played under the full set of junior rules, proved an entertaining and ultimately tense struggle, which went down to the last ball. Not even the coaches could have managed to orchestrate such an exciting finish!
This was followed by the junior match, in which the beginners and other juniors fought out another keenly contested match. All the boys contributed to what was a superb exhibition, both competitive and fun, impressing parents and friends by the extent of their progress during the course of the week. The pairs format, which allowed all batsmen and bowlers to have an equal share of the action, provided a similarly dramatic and sporting finish, which was a fitting conclusion to what had been a week of hard work, fun and friendship.
The climax to the week was the barbeque and awards ceremony, which this year attracted around 120 participants. After the presentation of commemorative medals and certificates to all the participants awards were made to Costas Kaltsas, Euan and William Jenkins, Joachim Schjødt, Max McVeigh, and Oscar Ramsden, for their all-round improvement in the junior group and Luka Galliver, most improved batsman, and Thomas Martin, all-round improvement, both newly promoted to the seniors.
This rounded off another highly successful and action-packed Academy, on a glorious evening, with players and coaches ready for a well-earned break in August, but looking forward to another month of serious cricket and further matches in September.