By Will Jackson
The England Development Programme Under-17s team will face the toughest test of their young careers when they come up against international opposition, for the first time for some.
The EDP U17s will line up against a South Africa side recently crowned world champions in the Under-19 World Cup, before a series against Pakistan kicks off.
EDP coach Iain Brunnschweiler says it will be a great opportunity for some of England’s young players to test themselves at a higher level.
Brunnschweiler told ecb.co.uk: “It’s quite a good challenge in terms of a one-day match to play against the world champions but for our boys it’s a fabulous opportunity to play high-quality international age-group teams.”
The main objective of the EDP is to develop the under-17 players in the English system, while preparing them for a future in cricket.
Brunnschweiler said: “We try to provide the best development opportunities but a major part of development is learning how to win, so we’ll prepare the team as best we can to beat the opposition against us.
“Its not absolutely about results, its about providing experiences for these players that will stand them in good stead as they hopefully advance into county cricket and international cricket years down the line.
“It’s really important we have our long-term hats on and think about the players’ journey and we fill them with experiences they need to have and I think playing international age-group cricket is an important experience.”
The former Hampshire wicketkeeper also said that playing age-group cricket was crucial to the development of young players, and warned against teenagers playing too much senior first-class cricket at a young age, although admitted it was important.
He said: “I think it’s really important that guys are stretched with playing top-standard cricket but also that they get the opportunity to dominate their own environment.
“Sometimes they need to pit their wits against blokes and play men’s cricket, sometimes it’s very important they play in their own age group and do well.
“If you’re a young player in a senior team you might be bowling first change and batting at 10 whereas in your own environment you might be the leader of the attack and batting at seven and there’s responsibility on you to do the business.”
Although he admitted that they did not know what to expect from the touring Pakistan side, Brunnschweiler believes the challenge of facing such an unknown quantity was “exciting” and an excellent opportunity for the players.
The EDP U17 squad will report to the NCPC on Sunday 10 August, and depart on Monday 25 August.
Matches (all at the NCPC):
August 13 2014 - Warm-up match v South Africa U19 (10.30am)
August 15 2014 - One-day match v Pakistan U17 (10.45am)
August 17 2014 - One-day match v Pakistan U17 (10.45am)
August 19 2014 - One-day match v Pakistan U17 (10.45am)
August 22/23/24 2014 - Three-day match v Pakistan U17 (10.45am)