As we look ahead to the new season, in this Academic Blog we catch up with the University’s Head of Student Cricket, Alfie Marston, and Course Leader for the new Integrated Masters in Cricket Coaching and Management and Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching Science, Craig Williams to discuss all things cricket at the University of Worcester.
First up, we’re keeping an eye on the progress of UW graduates Dillon Pennington and Pat Brown, and current physical education student Adam Finch in Worcestershire’s pre-season game against Warwickshire. Back at UW, Head Cricket Coach and recent UW sports coaching science graduate, Alfie Marston, puts the University players through their paces as they gear up for their opening game of the season: The annual varsity fixture against the University of Gloucestershire. Alfie is an ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) Level 3 qualified coach and is keen to build on the successful performances of the winter indoor season, where the team reached the BUCS National indoor semi-finals.
The 2022 season is Alfie’s first season as the University’s Head Coach, and he is keen to make a positive impression at the helm of the program. Reflecting on his journey to date, Alfie said:
“My undergraduate degree taught me so much and through the opportunities to coach at the cricket programmes at Malvern College, Worcestershire County Cricket Board and the Suffolk Cricket Pathway, whilst studying was incredible. I developed a range of skills and knowledge that have helped me prepare for my ‘Head of Cricket’ role. We have some tremendous players in both our men’s and women’s programme here at UW and with all the cricket developments coming to Worcester, such as the new International Inclusive Cricket centre, it truly is an exciting time to be involved in cricket in Worcester.”
Craig Williams, course leader for the new Integrated Masters in Cricket Coaching is equally thrilled about the evolution of cricket at Worcester:
“We are fast approaching an exciting period for cricket at the University. With the new Integrated Masters in Cricket Coaching and Management academic course starting in September (2022), we will welcome students from around the world with a passion for cricket coaching, management, and development. Added to this, with the excellent recent news that Worcester City Council’s planning department have given the University the green light to develop the new International Inclusive Cricket Centre, it really is a fantastic time to be part of cricket at the University.”
The new International Inclusive Cricket Centre will be developed on the University’s Severn Campus, less than half a mile from the iconic New Road Cricket Ground, the home of Worcestershire County Cricket Club (WCCC) and the Worcestershire Cricket Board (WCB).
The centre itself will provide a home for elite, grassroots and recreational players of all abilities and disabilities. Craig said:
“With so many different cricketing groups accessing the facility, this fantastic centre will have the potential to engage so many people on a daily basis and demonstrate the power that sport, and cricket can play in uniting and inspiring individuals.”
Before the Covid 19 pandemic, The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), WCCC, WCB and the University combined to host international physical disability cricket competitions. With teams from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan joining the England team for a series of one day fixtures with the semi-finals and finals played at New Road. As well as players from the University representing England, such as, Will Flynn and James Nordin, other students gained valuable experience in organisational roles including Team Liaisons, Team Managers, Ground Logistics and Performance Analysis.
Craig Williams says: “Students will play a pivotal role in supporting the vast range of groups that utilise the new Cricket Centre in areas such as coaching, teaching, managing, and analysing performance. These opportunities will provide our students with the applied experience to underpin and enhance their academic practice, as we help supporting them to successfully develop their employability skills.”
The Integrated Masters in Cricket Coaching and Management course has been developed with the support of organisations such as the ECB, WCCC, WCB and Gloucestershire County Cricket Board. The course will provide students with an array of skills, strategies, and knowledge to help them to support the future development of game. As well as studying in Worcester, the program has been developed so that students can study the first halves of year 3 and 4 in cricket playing areas overseas to expand their knowledge.
Supporting the local cricket workforce is a key part of the development of the new course and Cricket Centre. It will be important that students develop ECB coaching qualifications and attend associated CPD events. In November (2021), the University hosted the County Cricket boards coach education day. Coaches from Worcester including Alex Gidman (WCCC 1st team head coach), Andy Sutton (WCCC Boys Pathway Development Officer) and Dan Such (Coach Education Officer for the Worcestershire County Cricket Board), along with Alfie Marston led a coach education event for local coaches, students from the University, and prospective students. The event offered students an opportunity to meet, connect and learn from experienced professional coaches.
In March this year, 17 students at the University commenced the ECB’s core coach (level 2) award at the University of Worcester. The four-day course led by staff from Worcestershire and Warwickshire County Cricket Boards supports coaches to enhance their player centred approaches. Lead tutor, Dan Such from the Worcestershire Cricket Board, said:
“The University students were excellent on the course and a pleasure to work with. I am sure they will make a real difference to local clubs in the area this season as they begin to apply their new knowledge to practice.”
2nd year Sports Coaching Science and Disability Sport student, Jacob Ward, enjoyed the course, stating: “It is great that we can do courses like the core coach award alongside our studies and I am looking forward to coaching this summer.”
So, what next for Cricket at Worcester? Craig summed up our conversation, in typically positive fashion: “Worcestershire as a county, has a proud history within the game of cricket, and we believe that with the new Integrated Masters in Cricket Coaching and Management, the International Inclusive Cricket Centre, and the collective energy of the University, Worcestershire County Cricket Club, Worcestershire County Cricket Board, the ECB and many others within the game, the University, the county and the region, we have the potential for a really exciting new chapter in the development of the game.”
Find out more about the School of Sport.