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NCU Pathway Continuing To Grow and Strengthen With Expanded U19 and Emerging Knights Programme

Michael Martin  

Over the next 8 weeks, 44 young cricketers from the NCU will have time to showcase their talents at various stages in front of Knights' Head Coach Simon Johnston in both the Future Series and Under 19 fixtures arranged by the Performance team. The NCU U19s and Emerging Knights will have a full fixture programme (see below).

We caught up with Simon and had a chat about his plans and thoughts on the games and what is currently going on within the NCU Boys pathway.

"Just like last year, we will look to pick different squads for different games to ensure both us and the players can get the maximum out of all these fixtures. Over the next 8 weeks, we will be giving opportunities to an incredible 44 young cricketers from 15 different clubs in our pathway"

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the clubs for their continuing hard work in producing these players and the countless hours they put in with them, plus a huge thanks to all our NCU lead and assistant coaches who work tirelessly within all our age groups under 9s to Emerging"

First up will be the NCU U19s with games against the MCC and then a strong Indian touring party. In these fixtures over 19 different Under 19 players will be playing.

Simon explained the reasons behind having a separate under 19 programme.

"We started the Under 19s two years ago as we felt there was a gap in our pathway between u17 and Emerging and that several talented players were potentially falling through a gap at this age group. They now over the winter get a full coaching programme the same as the younger age groups, and this year they were lucky to have the likes of Ruhan Pretorious and Jonny Parker coach them over those months. The next evolvement of this programme was quality fixtures, and we are lucky to have secured the games v the MCC and games against an Indian touring side for them. These games work well as not only do the boys get quality game time v tough opposition but also offer a chance for anyone who performs well in these games to push their claim to be involved in the emerging series games shortly after so I'm excited to see what happens"

The Emerging Knights now play in the 'Future Series' which was brought in last year. Simon explained what he wants to get out of the series this year…

"The Future series is a brilliant competition and just like last year we can pick our strongest squad in some games so we can look at the guys who we feel will be "next in line" for senior honours and give those guys a chance to stick up their hands for senior Knights selection. Then also, we feel it's vitally important to use several games to expose some of our junior pathway players U14-19 to a higher level of cricket than they are used to or have been exposed to before. This will be a brilliant learning opportunity for both them and us and we had outstanding success in doing this last year."

"While there have been several well-documented challenges and constraints put on the Senior Knights side this year with the players leaving or unavailable one of the massive bonuses has been our ability to use these challenges and turn them into opportunities to blood a large number of Emerging knights into the senior set up. At the last festival at Bready no less than 8 of the squad of 13 had played Emerging Knights last year and 2 other Emerging players have also played earlier in the season. This is something the union should be incredibly proud of. This alone shows the importance of the Future series. On top of this of the 6 Knights players selected for the Irish Academy next week 3 of those where Emerging Knights who played a massive role in our Future series games last year so it's also great to see them get recognition with higher honours and shows the benefits of the Future Series for both the NCU and Irish pathways."

Future Series Fixtures

  • 28/06/2022 - 50 over Emerging Knights v Lightning Bolts at Lisburn 10:45
  • 30/06/2022 - 50 over Munster Heat v Emerging Knights at North Kildare 10:45
  • 05/07/2022 - 50 over Emerging Warriors v Emerging Knights at Eglinton 10:45
  • 15/07/2022 - 50 over Emerging Knights v Ireland U17 at Instonians 10:45
  • 18/07/2022 - T20 Lightning Bolts v Emerging Knights at Oak Hill 10:45
  • 20/07/2022 - T20 Emerging Knights v Ireland Academy at Instonians 10:45
                      - T20 Emerging Knights v Lightning Bolts at Instonians 14:45
  • 22/02/2022 - T20 Emerging Knights v Emerging Warriors at Instonians 10:45
                      - T20 Emerging Knights v Ireland U17 at Instonians 14:45