Kids are alright: Ex-Lancashire skipper and England coach wants Red Rose to continue developing youth

Exclusive by Ross McLean

As the man responsible for developing the next generation of England talent, former Lancashire skipper John Abrahams hopes nothing will detract from the club’s policy of giving youth a chance.

Lancashire were crowned kings of English domestic cricket in 2011 when they won their first outright County Championship title in 77 years with a raft of young, home-grown players.

And Abrahams – who manages English cricket’s under-19 development programme – insists the promotion of young talent is key and an increasing priority at international level.

“I absolutely hope Lancashire, and counties in general, continue to promote promising youngsters and give talent an opportunity,” he told MM.

“With the infrastructure of English cricket now, I think there is a clear pathway for all young players to progress and be a part of the full England set-up.

“That augurs well for the future and it is encouraging to see the likes of Joe Root and Jos Buttler enjoy success.

“It is obviously pleasing for me to see such quick progress and I would suggest the system is working.”

After a turbulent financial period, Lancashire signed a lucrative ten-year sponsorship deal with Dubai-based airline Emirates in February, easing the club’s fiscal constraints.

Nevertheless, a focus on youth development has continued and only last week former scholarship player Andrea Agathangelou scored his maiden first-class century for the club.

This followed highly-rated starlets Gavin Griffiths, Alex Davies, Luis Reece and Arron Lilley all signing their first professional deals with the club last September.

And Abrahams – a Lancashire player for 15 years between 1973 and 1988 – firmly believes the two players who have represented England at under-19 level have considerable promise.

“I have seen a lot of Alex and the way he has started the season I am sure he will be pushing the first-team squad,” he added.

“His wicket-keeping is improving all the time and he has shown he is more than capable with the bat, scoring runs this season against quality second XI attacks.

“Gavin has been improving throughout his time with the ECB’s development programme and was a leading bowler on our tour of South Africa in January.

“Although he probably didn’t take the wickets his performances deserved, he acquitted himself really well.”

Abrahams captained Lancashire to Benson and Hedges Cup glory in 1984 and one current Lancashire player who previously appeared on his England under-19 radar was Karl Brown.

And the 60-year-old South African is proud to see the Atherton-born batsman flourish and soon expects him to be competing for honours in county cricket’s top-flight once again.

“Karl is a free-scoring, inventive batsman and I’m glad he is getting a decent run in the side,” he said.

“He is deserving of that because of his performances and I think Lancashire are right to play him in the middle-order, rather than opening up which he did earlier in his career.

“The Lancashire side has not changed much since winning the championship a couple of years ago.

“And I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t get into the first division and start winning trophies – their two overseas signings in Ashwell Prince and Simon Katich are quality.”

Image courtesy of GCCC, via YouTube, with thanks

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