Cricket @ Desert Springs

Far Left Matthew Maynard (Coach) & Far Right Dean Conway (Physiotherapist) with Tom Maynard Trust players: Andy Carter (Nottinghamshire), Tom Curran (Surrey), George Edwards (Surrey), Cameron Herring (Gloucestershire), Greg Holmes (Glamorgan), Fynn Hudson-Prentice (Sussex), Rob Keogh (Sussex), Mattie McKiernan (Lancashire), Dewi Penryhn-Jones (Glamorgan), Aaron Thomas (Warwickshire) & Jon Webb (Warwickshire)


The first intake for the new Tom Maynard Academy, comprising eleven professional cricketers from nine of the UK’s first class counties, accompanied by seven supporting staff are now back in England having completed a successful nine days of warm weather fitness and cricket training between 13th – 21st February at Desert Springs Resort, Europe’s only international award-winning luxury family resort, championship desert golf course and dedicated Cricket Academy in the Almanzora region of Almeria in south-east Spain.


  ‘Net Practice Session’ at the Desert Springs Cricket Academy


The Tom Maynard Trust funded the inaugural 2014 programme in its entirety.  In future years it is hoped the programme might form part of the ECB’s player pathway, designed to work with young and emerging county cricketers at the start of their careers as part of a programme helping them prepare for the UK county season.


 ‘Throwing at the Stumps’ training session


Matthew Maynard headed the delivery of the programme.  Former Gloucestershire, Yorkshire and Australia all-rounder Ian Harvey and Head of Elite Coach Development at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Gordon Lord, were among those delivering specialist sessions to the players; and former England Head Physiotherapist, Dean Conway, oversaw the fitness and physical work of the players whilst at Desert Springs.


                          ‘Bowling Practice Session’ at the Desert Springs Cricket Academy


The Academy worked on a specific and carefully planned programme covering technical skills, strength and conditioning and both individual and group activity culminating with a special one-day match between the Tom Maynard Academy XI and the Spanish National side.


                          ‘Batting Practice Session’ at the Desert Springs Cricket Academy


Matthew Maynard remarked of the Cricket Academy:

 “The first thing to say is that we had a really fabulous group to work with.  Eleven players, drawn from eight of the first class counties: a real mix of characters and personalities, with ages ranging from 16 through to mid-20s.  Sitting here, on the morning of day five, it’s clear that the players have bonded and there is a wonderful camaraderie within from the group.  Work has been hard, both in the nets and away from them on the various fitness programmes, with the odd fierce bouncer, but the spirit is excellent, and there has been plenty of time for relaxation.  The laughter has grown steadily louder and become more prolonged as the week has gone on.

The support we’ve had on the ground has been absolutely brilliant.  Desert Springs is a great place to seclude yourselves away as a group.  The resort has everything we need, the facilities are very good and the food has been great.  There hasn’t been one complaint.  Not even a grumble.

Desert Springs Resort Superintendent, Anthony Brooks and his team had been working on the new grass nets for several months and with Sussex County Cricket Club due out for pre-season training next week, the Academy players were effectively christening them and giving everything a bit of a dry run. 

The surfaces played well enough.  In fact the facilities, with so much space for fielding, room for kit, bowling machine and pretty much all you’d need for a small group practicing outdoors for the first time that year, were close to spot on.  No question of there being any need to look elsewhere for 2015, everything we need for a group of cricketers working outdoors early in the year is right here.” 


In addition to the net sessions, there was a heavy emphasis on fielding. 


One of the objectives of the camp has been to provide some off field support and to offer some tools to help the players with their game plans and preparation.  Clearly major technical changes are not on the agenda – that’s for each individual and their coaches back in the UK – but we have tried to offer help of the kind which makes them think, helps them cherry-pick what might be useful, but to disregard what they feel they don’t need.  All have had one-to-ones to discuss game plans, to find out what aspects of the week will be of most value to them to take into the coming season.

With this aim in mind, Gordon Lord, Head of Elite Coaching at the ECB, spent the first couple of days holding individual sessions with all eleven players to look at some personality profiling and help them to understand themselves, and perhaps use a couple of little tricks to focus on their strengths and help diminish any potential weaknesses.  

Jamie Dalrymple added valuable coaching support and also delivered a session to the players on leadership, team roles and some of the psychological elements of the game.   

Mike Fatkin delivered a session to the players on the work of the Tom Maynard Trust, important background for this the first Academy intake.  He spoke about some of the educational projects the Trust was now involved in, including sponsorship of the PCA’s Rookie Camp, and a healthy discussion took place about some of the pitfalls of life as a young professional sportsman; everything from anti-corruption to insurance and injury, from contracts and agents to alcohol and through to career planning. 

Matthew Maynard summarized the inaugural Tom Maynard Cricket Academy by stating: –

“We hope that this is the first of many groups of young cricketers given a grounding to help them build the right foundations for a career in the game. 

The Tom Maynard Academy has got off to a flying start…”