Leading the task force is Newclose manager Mike Scott, left, and IW Cricket Board chairman Jim Thorn. Picture by Peter Boam.
CRICKETA TEAM comprising the Island’s best players could play Minor Counties cricket in the future, if a group of the sport’s most prominent local figures find they are ready for the challenge.
The IW Cricket Board (IWCB), headed by chairman Jim Thorn, and Newclose Cricket Ground chief Mike Scott, are heading the task force, which includes Ventnor chairman John Hilsum, IWCB members David Lloyd and Peter Tyler, Ventnor first team captain Charlie Freeston, Ryde first team captain Lawrence Tolfrey, IWCB coach Mervyn Jones and the Island’s cricket development manager, Stuart Chatfield.
The group was set up over the summer and their first task has been to hold a comprehensive review of the structure of Island cricket, while also investigating the possibility of entering an IW team into Minor Counties competitions, giving Island cricketers a bigger natural progression in the sport.
Informal discussions have already taken place with the England and Wales Cricket Board’s head of non first-class cricket, Paul Bedford, while an approach to the Minor Counties Association is planned.
The group is expected to reveal its findings and make recommendations to the IWCB in March next year.
Mr Scott said: "It is an exciting challenge that we have been given by the IW Cricket Board. It is not as daft as it sounds for the Island to play Minor Counties.
"Durham only entered the County Championship in 1992, and in their short existence at that level has won it twice. At a lower level, and with the right approach, there is no reason why the IW cannot achieve something similar.
"The talent and facilities are there, we just need to ensure that the right structures are in place to support the development of our county players at all age levels."
The Island currently has three players in senior first-class cricket.
Hampshire bowler Danny Briggs has flown to Australia as part of the England Performance Squad, while former Shanklin man David Griffiths has been part of the Hampshire set up for several seasons and Chris Russell has just signed a contract extension at Worcestershire.
Meanwhile, Jamie Miller has a bright future after being offered a development contract at Hampshire and Steve Snell is looking for new challenges after five successful seasons at Gloucestershire.
Former Ventnor and Hampshire player Mark Garaway is currently the director of cricket operations for the Ireland cricket team.
Mr Thorn said: "2010 has seen Island county sides at all age groups perform better than in previous years, winning more games and producing higher quality performances.
"The cricket board saw this as the ideal time to review the existing structures and systems in terms of player selection, coaching and the pathway to representing the Island as a first team.
"These are the areas the task force has been asked to review, with the ultimate aim of playing in the minor counties competitions.
"Over recent years we have strengthened our relationships with the ECB and Lord’s and it is recognised that we are capable of producing excellent talent."