Bevan to build on Ashes success

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Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff with his PCA award for player of the year © Getty Images

The Ashes triumph could lay the foundations for a golden age of English cricket, according to players’ boss Richard Bevan.

Bevan, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, chose the PCA Awards dinner last night to lay out a three-point wish list to build on the euphoria generated by the success against Australia.

Ashes hero Andrew Flintoff, unsurprisingly, took the player of the year award and Bevan wants any financial gains which cricket reaps from its new cult status to be invested in the future.

“It will have a really big effect. We would like to see more opportunities for youngsters coming through, possibly less overseas players and more investment in the grass roots of the game,” he said at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

“England have to make sure they have a good young group of players to choose from. We have to get as many English-qualified players as we can playing the county game.

“We have to look at the long-term, which is not always a very easy thing for clubs to do, but I’m sure we have a rosy future.”

Andrew Flintoff

Andrew and Rachel Flintoff at the awards © Getty Images

While England coach Duncan Fletcher pin-pointed the Twenty20 victory over Australia at the beginning of the season as the crucial time which he believes convinced his players Ricky Ponting’s side could be beaten, Bevan thinks the exciting shortened form of the game could prove the catalyst to attract more youngsters to cricket.

“What has seen a big upsurge is Twenty20 and long may it continue. You become more competitive, particularly with things like Twenty20 where you see the young players coming through,” he added.

“I went to Middlesex v Surrey and saw 28,000 people watching Twenty20. It’s great for youngsters to walk down the steps in front of crowds like that and hopefully the finances from that can be used for the growth of the game.”

Bevan was also heartened by the friendly spirit in which the Ashes series was played and he believes that can do nothing but good.

“It was about the middle of the Manchester Test when the public and the media sussed out just what a great spirit it was being played in,” he said.

“It’s set a benchmark round the world and it’s been brilliant. It’s given cricket a big boost and long may it continue.”

But while the Ashes victory could change the face of English cricket for years to come, Bevan is not sure it will have the same effect on the players who overcame the Aussies.

“I’m not sure it will change their lives. They are very professional and they are soon going to tour Pakistan and India. They have a lot more cricket to play in the next few months,” he reasoned.

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