The Northern Cricket Union have released their 2019 Annual Report, looking back at the state of affairs across a range of topics over the past year.
Their report looks at the likes of work being carried out by the General Manager, General Secretary and various roles which look after the development of the game in general and youth cricket.
Alan Waite, who will be replaced as chairman by Sam Beckett for the 2020 season, released his final Chairman Report which can be read in full below:
“The volume and range of cricket activity the Union now covers continues to develop and grow. Many areas of our operations have again seen great progress during 2019. However, this growth in activity also results in more challenges as our resources continue to be stretched. The NCU school and club development programmes, domestic competitions and representative cricket at youth and senior levels have all combined to result in an ever-increasing workload for our volunteers and administrators. Sincere thanks must go to all our volunteers and administrators for the valuable contribution they make and for the time they continue to give to enable the successful delivery of cricket throughout the NCU.
“General Manager, Angela Platt, has continued to support the Board of Directors with improvements to the implementation of our Governance and Operational systems. Angela oversees the day to day operations of the Union’s staff and ensures we continue to make progress to achieve our key targets and objectives. Angela has again been successful in securing a range of grants to support the delivery of our cricket development programmes. Seeking and securing external investment will continue to be a key target in the coming years as we ensure we access additional investment to impact positively on our clubs and schools. The General Manager appointment would not have been possible without the support and financial investment from Cricket Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland and we thank both organisations for that continued investment.
“General Secretary, Bryan Milford, continues to play a key role in the Union’s administration. Bryan’s work often goes unseen to the wider membership, with many hours spent behind the scenes preparing and supporting the administration of our domestic programmes. Bryan’s role is wide and varied but is essential as the main communications role within the Union between the Union and our clubs. His experience and knowledge of the NCU continues to be invaluable as we continue our development in the coming years.
“Cricket Operations Manager, Uel Graham, has settled well into his role following his appointment in May 2018 and he has already played a significant role in improving the standard and quality of our cricket operations. Some of Uel’s highlights to date include significant improvements in the volume of activity and increased competitive opportunities for our regional development squad programmes (both male and female). Uel has also been instrumental in the delivery of the first NCU Golf Day held at Royal Belfast Golf Club in April 2019, which was a great success and raised much needed funds to support the Emerging Knights and Women’s Representative programmes in 2019. Uel has also been the driving force in another successful delivery of the NCU U16 Cricket Festival held in Belfast in August with visiting teams from across the UK. A hugely important role for the NCU and one that would not be possible without support and investment from Cricket Ireland.
“2019 has also seen some changes in our Cricket Development Staff team. With the transfer of responsibility for Cricket Development from Cricket Ireland to the NCU this resulted in two new roles being recruited in 2019.
“In March 2019 Wayne Hughes was appointed as the new School & Club Engagement Officer for the Union, a role supported by investment from Sport NI and Cricket Ireland. Wayne’s role focuses on establishing opportunities for schools to be introduced to the game of cricket across the region and enable strong school club links to effectively increase the number and quality of opportunities available to school aged players within cricket. Wayne’s role is also focused on supporting the development of a greater diversity of programmes within youth and adult club cricket for both males and females.
“In September 2019 Callum Atkinson was appointed as the new Club & Workforce Development Officer, another role supported by investment from Sport NI and Cricket Ireland. In this role Callum will focus on providing greater support to clubs to enhance individual club development systems and improving capacity building within club workforce (Coaches, Officials and Volunteers) development structures.
“Up to August 2019, Callum Atkinson, was the Union’s Cricket Development Officer, a role jointly funded by Ulster University and the NCU. During that time Callum worked hard to deliver our development programmes with many clubs and schools benefitting from that work to date. The role also saw improvements in the University Indoor and Outdoor competitions as well as the implementation of the Women & Girls Cricket Academy. We are grateful to the Ulster University for their financial support for the role. As current funding for the role ends in December 2019, we are currently exploring options with Ulster University for the continuation of potential investment for the role beyond this year. We look forward to continuing to work with Ulster University to developing our partnership over the coming years.
“February 2019 also saw the appointment of Simon Johnston as the Northern Knights Head Coach and NCU Pathway Head Coach role. Cricket Ireland continued with their investment to support the Northern Knights Head Coach role, with the NCU agreeing to invest in the pathway head coach role to ensure the role was a full time position up to December 2020. The success of that appointment has already been evident following an excellent year for the MTB Northern Knights Programme and individual success for Knights players at International level.
“The MTB Northern Knights secured a first Interprovincial T20 Title and performed well in all other formats. The programme has also evolved to include wider player development through our Emerging Knights programme. Thanks, must go to the coaches and players representing the Northern Knights during the past season as their contribution, in addition to their club commitments, has been exceptional.
“The 2019 season has again seen record numbers being involved in our regional development squad programmes (RDS) for boys’ and girls’ as well as our Senior Women and Emerging Knights programmes. We again saw a significant increase in the number of competitive games and tours provided for our talented young players through our representative squads with various tours occurring the summer months, including our first ever Women’s tour to Cornwall in August. We look forward to seeing those young players in our system progress through our pathway programmes in the years to come. We are of course indebted to the dedication and commitment of the many coaches involved in delivering those programmes and activities during the season as they simply wouldn’t happen without our excellent coaches at all levels.
“A significant highlight during the 2019 season was the success of the inaugural NCU Golf Day, held in April 2019 at Royal Belfast Golf Club. Our thanks must go to Uel Graham who organised the event superbly and Belfast City Auctions for their sponsorship, as well as the many individuals, businesses and organisations who supported with sponsorship of tees and greens, to enable the event to be so successful. We look forward to hosting similar fundraising events in the future.
“At International level 2019 again saw an increase in the number of international fixtures being hosted at Stormont. This season the NCU supported Cricket Ireland in hosting a Senior Men’s series against Afghanistan in May and a Senior Men’s series against Zimbabwe in July. Unfortunately, the planned Women’s T20 games against Zimbabwe were cancelled due to Zimbabwe not being able to travel but we do hope we will have future opportunities to host Women’s internationals in Stormont. Thanks must go to Ivan McMinn and the CSNI CC volunteers who supported the delivery of the international games at Stormont, as well as the NCU staff team who made sure they supported Cricket Ireland in the smooth running of those international fixtures.
“Once again it has been a busy season for everyone involved in cricket and one that was unfortunately impacted significantly by poor weather at times throughout the season, resulting in a difficult finish to the leagues. However, on a positive for 2019 we have been able to again add to our professional staff team during the past year to support our work and provide additional resources to support our clubs and schools throughout the region. However, even with increased staff resources we continue to be mindful of the fact that the delivery and development of cricket continues to be dependent on the large number of valuable volunteers at Union and club level who give so much of their free time to assist with the many cricket events and programmes delivered throughout the year.
“On behalf of everyone in the NCU I also extend our sincere thanks to the many clubs and schools who have assisted us in providing their facilities during the season to enable us to host a range of competitions, representative games and practice sessions. Your support is greatly appreciated.
“As my term as Chairman now comes to an end, I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who supported me in my role over the last three years and especially during the last year. Thank you also to those who are now standing down from the Board after many years of great service to the Union. They have all contributed so much to the NCU and whilst their input will be missed by the Board, I am sure they will continue to volunteer their time to support the Union in other ways over the coming years.
“Thank you to everyone for their contribution to cricket during the past year. For many of you it won’t be a long break as clubs plan for the new season and the NCU indoor winter RDS programmes for girls and boys are scheduled again to begin in October. However, I hope you all enjoy a break from cricket and come back refreshed and ready to embrace the new 2020 cricket season.”
A new strategic plan, which is being worked on by General Manager Angela Platt and the board, will launch in January.
The report also says that the NCU have undertaken their biggest ever schools programme over the last year, with five development programmes now in place. They are: T10 Primary Boys Big Bash, Year 8 Boys Coaching Support, Primary Girls Super 8’s, U13 Girls Super 8’s and U15/1st XI Girls Coaching Support.
On the disciplinary side of things in the Union, 16 reports were submitted by umpires during the season and one by the Competitions Committee, which is down by four in total from the 2018 campaign.
Two of the reports resulted in players being banned for two matches while the other 15 were reprimanded and warned of their future conduct.
The most reports came in Section One (8) while the Premier League had six and Senior League Two, Three and the Midweek League all had one each.
18 players in total represented the Northern Knights throughout the 2019 season with Mark Adair, James Cameron-Dow, Harry Tector, Shane Getkate and captain Gary Wilson turning out in every fixture.
The report in full can be viewed by clicking the link below.