Local lad Ben Cliff makes North of England
This season has been a memorable one for 15-year-old Ben Cliff, representing the North of England at the famous Bunbury festival. A great achievement for a hard-working young man, and an achievement The Cricket Asylum are very proud to have played a part in.
Ben comes from a strong Cricketing family, and has developed through the junior ranks and into senior cricket down at Copley Cricket Club, currently playing in their 1st XI.
Back in the winter of 2013 aged 11, Ben joined The Ultimate Academy down at the Cricket Asylum, where he showed early promise as a fast bowler. Under the guidance of TCA’s coaches and the then guest fast bowling coach Steve Oldham (former Yorkshire CCC bowling coach), Ben was given the support and guidance he needed to start playing representative Cricket, firstly for the Halifax League under 11s and then straight into Yorkshire u11s for the 2014 season.
Ben highlighted some very simple advice that made a huge impact on his bowling. “On the Ultimate Academy I was encouraged to bowl faster and given a simple that tightened up my bowling action. This gave me more confidence to run in and put the ball where I wanted to.”
Leading up to the selection for North of England Ben has made consistent performances for the Yorkshire age group teams – from u11s through to u15s – taking the new ball throughout his period. During this time, he has benefited from expert guidance at The Cricket Asylum – whether honing his variation skills or working on his batting… something that fast bowlers need to work on just as much if they are to progress.
“The Asylum has been great for my development. From the Ultimate Academy, to the Masterclasses to 1:1s…I have benefitted from them all. Even if I just fancy a bowl, I can book a net and come down and work on things with my dad or brother”.
The sports psychology training has helped Ben become more resilient and to focus on positives. It also taught him to set goals, which has so far been a big part of his success. A year ago he set himself the goal of making the North of England squad, and now he’s straight onto what’s next…and hoping to be considered for Yorkshire’s emerging player programme (EPP).
Ben knows how hard sport can be, but just enjoys his game and wants to get as far as possible, but having the inspiration of former Copley and Yorkshire CCC player and current Warwickshire CCC fast bowler Oliver Hannon-Dalby makes him very aware of what can be achieved from humble beginnings.
“Olly is a great example. Whenever he comes back to Copley he asks about how we are getting on, and how my development is going. He is very encouraging! To know he has been through this makes it very real.”
The week at Bunbury (the 32nd year of the Festival) saw the four Regions; North, Midlands, London & East and South & West, and 56 of the best young cricketers in the country, come together to play each other in 50 over and T20 formats.
“It was a great week and a real privilege to be part of it. To play against the best is how you get better. I learnt a lot from spending time with the North squad, and playing against the other regions…made up of counties that we don’t normally play against for Yorkshire. Although The North didn’t win the festival it is nice to come away knowing that I competed…I took a few wickets, took a few catches and scored runs. This gives me confidence that I can take into the next stage.”
A successful season for Ben, with his Yorkshire U15s team being crowned National County Champions having gone unbeaten through the campaign. Another local lad and product of the Ultimate Academy, wicket keeper Alex Kaye also being part of this team.
The success of Ben and many others locally are a product of not only what the Asylum is doing, but also the local clubs and the Halifax Junior Cricket League who have a commitment to providing excellent coaching and opportunities for all.
Let’s wish Ben all the best with his Cricketing future and look forward to seeing the continued success from all the young players around.