This post was originally published on All Out Cricket on 14th November 2013.
The Club Cricket Conference’s support for recreational cricket continues to be as strong as ever and last month two youngsters won the opportunity to put their skills to the test in India.
Last month 30 candidates were put through their paces by the Club Cricket Conference (CCC), in association with Kingfisher Beer, in their search to find two young spinners to receive a week-long scholarship at the Global Cricket School in India. Under the watchful eye of former England spinners John Emburey and Min Patel, Kristian Martin and Imran Qayyum emerged victorious and will now head to Pune to develop their bowling and hone their skills.
The criteria for eligibility is strict – candidates have to be between 18 and 21, cannot be contracted to a first-class county and must be playing club cricket in this country. As Patel, formerly of Kent and now head coach for the CCC, explains, he sees a bright future for the two young spinners: “Imran Qayyum is a slow left-armer and Kristian Martin is an off spinner, both are very consistent and both have strong, repeatable actions – key elements for any young spinner hoping to play the game at a higher level. Part of what we were trying to do was to find people who may not have been on the county radar but who had the ability to make counties sit up and take notice.”
It represents a brilliant opportunity for both Qayyum, 20, and Martin, 19, who play for Finchley and Ealing respectively, something that’s not lost on either of them: “The fact that I’m going to India where you find a lot of great spinners is pretty special,” says Qayyum. “Not forgetting that at the academy there will be a lot of coaches, so I’m looking forward to picking their brains.”
For Martin, a student at Leeds Met University, it’s a similar story: “I can’t wait, to be honest. I’m really pleased and very excited. I hoped that I’d get quite close to winning but I never thought that I’d win it. It was really good fun. I’m really thankful to the CCC for putting it all on for us.”
Interestingly Qayyum chooses Monty Panesar as the bowler he most resembles while Martin picks Graeme Swann. Patel believes the likes of Panesar and Swann have helped to increase the standard of spin bowling in the country and is keen to see that standard continue to rise: “There is a lot of talent out there and there’s a lot of enthusiasm.
“We’re seeing spinners, young spinners at that, who are all keen to learn and develop. We’re seeing left-arm chinamen and all sorts of weird and wonderful varieties of spin. There’s definitely a future of young spin in the country, it’s just a case of there being enough youngsters who are able to make it into the county game.” With access to the top level of the game very much at the core of schemes such as this one it feels like the future of spin bowling is in safe hands.