Junior Cricket Pathway Story – Michael Beard

As a little lad playing in his first match, Mike struggled to get the ball down to the other end of the wicket. His mum said he wouldn’t be any good at cricket and perhaps should try a different sport!

However, as time passed and through his enjoyment and commitment, encouraged by coaches and parental support at Thame Cricket Club, Mike achieved great success and life-experience through cricket.

He played for Thame and Oxfordshire through the various age-groups and started playing adult cricket at the age of 11. As a 14 year-old he was opening the batting for Thame 1st XI in the Home Counties Premier League, which was a great learning experience! He also had the opportunity with Oxfordshire to go on tours, with the highlight being a tour to Australia.

While “playing up a year” for Oxfordshire U15’s, he was scouted by Gloucestershire and was offered a place in the Gloucestershire Academy, travelling to Bristol twice a week for coaching sessions.

During this time he was selected to play for the South & West of England Region, receiving his cap from England cricketer John Crawley. He played for the region in the 2008 Bunbury Festival, before going on a cricket tour to Barbados with Lord Williams’s School.

While in Barbados he got the call to say he had made the cut for the England U15’s squad, one of only a couple of state-school boys to be selected at this level, with the chance to feed off players such as Michael Vaughan. One highlight was to be selected to play at Lords in 2008 in the first-ever England U15’s v ESCA U16’s (England Schools Cricket Association).

After leaving school and going to Bristol University, he was awarded a professional contract with Gloucestershire and was also selected for the England U18 fast-bowling academy, attending sessions at Loughborough.

Mike enjoyed the experience with Gloucestershire, playing at some great grounds and going on a tour to India. He also had the opportunity to play with another former Thame player, Jonathan Batty, who had joined Gloucestershire from Surrey in the twilight of his career.

Unfortunately, due to health issues this period proved to be the pinnacle of his cricketing career, but his enjoyment of cricket continued as he returned to play for Thame and Oxfordshire and gained full membership of the MCC. Highlights included opening the batting for the MCC at Lords against Ireland ‘A’ and going on an MCC tour to the Netherlands for an international tournament.

Back at Thame, Mike captained the First XI for 6 consecutive seasons and led the side to promotion in 2017 to the Home Counties Premier League, Division 1, for the first time in the club’s history.

As Mike’s experience shows, TTCC is committed to youth development and to bringing on young players, to help them achieve their aspirations & their full cricketing-potential.

Written by Stephen Beard


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