Club nightmare - no coaches for the new kids

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There is concern that the momentum gained by the epic defeat of Australia will slow. The England and Wales Cricket Board have altered their coaching structure both to meet Government guidelines and to improve overall standards, but must ensure tutors are equipped for the new courses.

Pete Ackerley, the ECB's strategy development manager, said: "We are aware that there might be a slight hiatus this winter, varying across the country, but the new system will be much more beneficial. We have to make sure it's right before proceeding. Actually, I've been slightly surprised. Between September 2005 and September 2006 we expect to qualify 1,800 coaches or coaching assistants."

But it is also feared that although the new structure will lead to better all-round coaches, the courses' intensity will lead to fewer people wishing to take them. The ECB's aim is to have 17,500 qualified coaches by 2009.

Clubs are anxious to meet upsurge in interest, but feel they have been stalled. Chris Johnson, the chairman of Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire, said there were no courses scheduled in the county this winter. "We want to run a girls' team next season, but we need coaches and won't have them," he said. "The new coaching award also requires more time to take."

But the ECB hope their new system will be more wide-ranging. The former Level One and Level Two courses have been scrapped in favour of awards for assistant coach and coach as part of the UK Coaching Certificate system. The first, comprising four three-hour sessions, will allow holders to teach basics and organise routines to improve skills. The second, requiring eight three-hour sessions and 10 hours of coaching practice, will be more demanding but is aimed at giving holders the how and why of coaching as well as the what.

To arrive at the new structure the ECB sent coaching staff to examine coaching set-ups in other countries. A bigger problem than a short-term lack of new coaches might be a long-term lack of cash from the Government. Chance to Shine, the project aimed at getting cricket back into state schools, will shortly receive £2m of the £25m it hopes for from the Government. But the new coaching set-up needs funding. Ackerley said: "At some point we hope the Government puts its money where its mouth is."

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