By Chris Devine
England Development Programme Under-17 coach Iain Brunnschweiler believes Joe Root’s rapid rise underlines the importance of hard work as young players pursue international honours.
Brunnschweiler’s charges performed strongly during their recent ODI series with Sri Lanka, suffering a narrow defeat in a final that saw Lancashire’s Rob Jones strike a terrific unbeaten hundred.
While admitting to being tremendously excited by the talent currently at his disposal, Brunnschweiler knows natural ability alone is far from the sole requirement for those looking to succeed at the highest level.
Referencing the emergence of Root, who has drawn high praise for his work ethic, he told ecb.co.uk: “There’s a very high correlation with the guys who work the hardest and the guys who have the most success. It’s as simple as that.”
Another recent EDP representative, Somerset paceman Jamie Overton, could make his senior England debut this week after being named in the one-day international squads to face Ireland and Australia.
Brunnschweiler added: “We try and use these examples, guys like Jamie Overton or Joe Root who have very recently been within the England Development Programme and suddenly they`re on the big stage - they’re out there.
“It’s so important that we manage expectations (of the U17s) and get them to aspire to the fact they might be within the senior ranks much sooner than they may have thought perhaps a year ago.”
Elaborating on his current charges, an enthusiastic Brunnschweiler revealed: “This age group is a very exciting one. There is a range of highly promising players with different skill-sets.
“Fast bowlers; spinners; opening batters; middle-order batters - there’s a real range of prospects within the group and some very high-potential players.
"The whole point is can we take that potential and, along with the counties and the England Development Programme, try and harness that talent and move it forward so that in five, six, seven years time we’ve got a few of these boys knocking on the door at the top level.
Series such as the recently concluded one against Sri Lanka represent excellent opportunities for EDP players to further their development.
"It`s a massive help for the players to be able to put the skills that they’ve been working on throughout the year, both with their counties and on the national programme, into practice under the pressure of international youth tournament conditions," said Brunnschweiler.
“They find out a lot about themselves and for us as coaching staff we see how they deal with the pressure and it gives us more opportunities to shape their development accordingly.
“The players who look good in nets aren’t necessarily the ones that do the business on the field and vice versa. To see it under pressure in this environment is absolutely vital.”
One player who proved more than capable of excelling under pressure against Sri Lanka was Jones.
His 110-ball 100 almost helped England pull off a sensational pursuit of 249 in the competition final at Loughborough, the hosts ultimately falling eight runs short.
“It was a heroic innings from him to be honest. What he did was outstanding,” explained Brunnschweiler.
“We needed about 10 an over off the last 13 overs and I don’t think any of us in our heart of hearts thought we’d get close, because they have a very good bowling attack.
“But we got down to needing 10 off the last two balls, with Rob 98 not out. He was phenomenal and hit a six over the National Performance Centre; we needed 22 off the last over and he hit the first ball for six.
“He works extremely hard at his game and it`s nice to see one of those guys (enjoy success) that works hard and gets the most out of himself.”