If you’re talking about cricket coach education in Yorkshire then a chat with Kevin Gresham is the best place to start.
He’s the Yorkshire Cricket Board’s Coach Development Manager and has been integral to the training of thousands of coaches across the region over many years.
During our interview on Zoom, we discuss Kevin’s own coaching journey, becoming an ECB tutor and a look at the work being done by the YCB to increase opportunities at all levels.
Kevin came to coaching relatively late and had that eureka moment that many have felt: “I went on my first coaching course and realised I didn’t know as much as I thought I did!”
He played for Aston Hall then Killamarsh (Bassetlaw League) and Handsworth Working Men’s Cricket Club (now Handsworth Sporting Club), among a few others.
Helping out with Handsworth’s juniors, the realisation that there was plenty to learn was a bit of an eye-opener.
Club cricketers might sometimes go on courses thinking they have the fundamentals nailed (not always true); besides, teaching and empowering are altogether different skills, along with the technical side of the game.
That said, some might know a bit more than others; I did my Level 1 in Middlesex (Finchley) and was in a group with Phil Simmons practising the pull shot. You’d take it in turns to be the coach and demonstrate it to the group.
“Not bad Phil!” I think I said encouragingly as he drilled a tennis ball through the wall of the sports hall.
During the lunch break, we saw on Sky Sports that he’d been selected in a Test squad for the West Indies.
Whatever your involvement in cricket, coaching is an opportunity to pass on knowledge but also become a better player at the same time. Occasionally, there will be reluctance to get involved but that can change once you get stuck in on the day.
Kevin told me: “When we do coaching courses now and I see somebody like that, I can relate to it… some players come because the club sends them and they don’t really want to be there. But hopefully we can help them overcome that and nowadays, most do want to be a coach.”
Gresham & Kerruish Double Act
For years until his retirement in 2023, Dale Kerruish worked with Kevin for the YCB on all things coach education. (It’s known as coach development at the minute, presumably because education sounds a bit boring but like everything else, terminology may change again in future).
Dale’s influence on the Gresham coaching journey has been significant, not least the move from coach to tutor of other coaches.
“He mentored me. I did my coaching course with him and he asked at the end, ‘What do you want to do?’ and I said, ’I wouldn’t mind what you’re doing!’ So he kept sending me to schools for experience and things went from there.”
That led to Kevin coaching Yorkshire Girls as well as becoming qualified to be a tutor which led to delivering courses with Dale.
As Kevin put it in a touching tribute to his mate: “Dale’s probably forgotten more about coach development than I’ll ever know!”
High demand for YCB coaching courses
Doing a job over many years, you get to know the trends, challenges and opportunities. For Kevin, the worry was always that there would eventually be a saturation point where everyone who needed to be qualified as a cricket coach had done a course.
This being Yorkshire; a vast area over 4,500 square kilometres and 5 million people, that hasn’t happened, nor will it anytime soon.
Of course, some qualify and then life takes a different turn (I did my Level 2 in a Guiseley school sports hall with Kevin Sharp but coaching gave way to running Cricket Yorkshire), others remain as cricket coaches at clubs or in schools for decades.
There is also the exciting growth of the women and girls’ game that needs more volunteers and coaches with expansion mapped out by the ECB. The goal is tripling the number of girls’ teams in the country to 6,000 by 2026.
That will take a lot more courses, newly qualified coaches and further development from existing volunteers to facilitate all those teams, so you can expect plenty more over the coming year as that national vision takes shape.
It’s worth saying that the YCB trained over 700 coaches during 2023, including over 200 females.
Kevin tells me that the YCB have delivered female-only courses such as Level 2 courses at Leeds Trinity and all-female Foundation course at Low Moor Holy Trinity in 2023 and places were easily filled.
The demographics of coaching courses are changing as the game evolves. Not only are there now female-only courses, but there are regularly female attendees on open courses too.
Being inclusive takes many forms and it’s very much part of thinking in the world of coach development now, with mixed gender and female-only offerings. The YCB will get central funding from ECB (as other counties do too) to deliver coaching that encourages diversity.
That could be to encourage females into cricket coaching, ethnic minorities and even overseas cricketers; the latter must do a Level 2 course to qualify for a visa the following year, if they want to return to the UK.
Current YCB Coaching Courses
The current options for coaching include: ECB Support Coach, ECB Foundation Coach (Level 1), ECB Core Coach (Level 2) and ECB Advanced Coach (Level 3).
The three courses delivered by the YCB are all entry-level (e.g. you don’t have to do Foundation Coach before ECB Core Coach). Cricket experience and commitment time are two factors that dictate which course to attend).
For coaching in club cricket, the majority of coaches are Level 1 or Level 2, with the intro Support Coach qualification aimed at those over 16 who’d like to help with sessions, rather than lead them.
Here’s more info from the ECB on the criteria for each course.
To find the latest coaching courses across Yorkshire, visit the Yorkshire Cricket Board website. For 2024, there are dozens available to book on, depending on your level of experience and how far you’d like to progress.
Getting coaching qualifications takes time and cost but the payoff comes with skills that last a lifetime and the ability to deliver cricket sessions for years to come.
Join the YCB Coaches Association
The YCB Coaches Association, affiliated to the ECB, has 700 members. During Covid, there were workshops on different aspects such as captaincy and leadership via Zoom and these proved popular.
So, alongside the typical ECB coaching pathway, there are now more of these bolt-on offerings in specific areas.
Coaches looking to expand their learning can get involved with the likes of these workshops below.
Practical Coaching Workshop (incl strength and conditioning) on 11 February, a keeping course on 2 March with Simon Guy at the Bradford Park Avenue Cricket Dome and then 24 March sees a fielding masterclass with Cookie Patel at Headingley.
Members of YCB Coaches Association hear first with discounts available before they are opened out to the general public. Click to find out more about joining.
Thanks to Kevin for his insights and you can contact him via email on [email protected] with any questions.
*This is a sponsored article on behalf of Yorkshire Cricket Board – if the mood takes you, click to read Cricket Yorkshire’s policy on sponsored content.
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