Greenwich District has always been a rich breeding ground for future Kent County talent to flourish, as Warren Lee, Grace Gibbs and Ivan Thomas can attest.
Blackheath’s U11 trialists James Watson-Gandy (left) and Ryan-Luca Antonioli.
This year, however, has seen massive increase in winter trialists from the borough’s clubs with nine boys currently taking part in a six-week selection process.
Greenwich Junior Cricket Academy has put forward three boys to be involved in the trials, including U13s Matt Walker and Zrey Sholarpurker and U15 Jonty Logan.
U15 Nick Smith is the only representative outside Greenwich’s two main junior set ups and plays his club cricket at Old Elthamians.
Blackheath Cricket Club have five representatives at trials with U11s Ryan-Luca Antonioli and James Watson-Gandy, U13 Jamie Angel and U15s Awais Fahan and Owen Dransfield making up the nine Greenwich representatives.
Unfortunately, Owen Dransfield is an injury doubt for the remainder of the trials because of a suspected fractured arm he suffered while playing rugby.
The trials are taking place at Colfe’s school, which is also in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and are currently half way through, with the entire Greenwich contingent impressing.
From left to right: Jamie Angel, Zrey Sholarpurker and Matt Walker
We spoke to Matt’s dad Alastair and Jonty’s dad Steve to find our how the boys were getting on:
Greenwich Cricket: How did you feel when you found out Matt had been selected for the Kent trials?
Alastair Walker: Well, we were delighted, of course. He was disappointed last year and when he was picked after a fairly difficult season, with lots of rain, we were delighted.
GC: How do you think playing for Greenwich Juniors has let Matt reach this level?
AW: I think the key is the encouragement and coaching that they get constantly from the likes of Len, Graham and Raj. I think the coaching set up and the pastoral structure as well, is very good indeed.
I think that’s really helped. The number of games they get, the coaching and they get and the environment generally is an ideal breeding ground for them all.
GC: How have the trials gone so far?
AW: They’ve been very positive. It’s very difficult to play brilliantly every time. He’s been working on his bowling and his batting and seems to be improving each time. I think they’re quite positive, as well, the coaches from Kent who’ve come down, because they encourage them and help them. You’ve just got to do what they say!
GC: What are Matt’s goals for the upcoming season?
To get selected in the summer squad. Apart from that, he just wants to do his best in every game. But getting into the summer squad is his key goal for this year.
AW: No problem.
From left to right: Jonty Logan, Awais Fahan, Owen Dransfield and Nick Smith
Greenwich Cricket: How did you feel when you found out Jonty had been selected for the Kent trials.
Steve Logan: He had been previously playing for Surrey’s development squad for four seasons previously, so it’s more of a changing over exercise.
From Jonty’s opinion, he’s enjoyed the Kent training more than he had at Surrey. There’s a bit more interaction with the coaches and they talk to him a bit more.
GC: How do you think playing for Greenwich Juniors has let Jonty reach this level?
SL: I think he’s enjoyed playing, working with Len and I think that it’s a confidence thing. I think he’s grown in confidence playing with the Greenwich Juniors. It’s been good to get a lot of games under his belt.
GC: How have the trials gone so far?
SL: He’s really enjoyed it and feels like he’s performed well with the bat.
The first week, he hadn’t been bowling very well for a couple of years, but here he just bowled five or six deliveries, one of the coaches pulled him to one side, spoke to him about his action and suddenly he’s gone back into gear.
After four years of five or six different Surrey coaches trying to get him to bowl over the wicket, round the wicket, back of the hand, various different deliveries, it seems to have just fallen back into place.
GC: What are Jonty’s goals for the upcoming season?
SL: He wants to get into the county set up, get some runs and take some wickets!
GC: Thanks for your time.