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‘Extremely proud’ Noah Kelly reflects on Yorkshire Academy inclusion

Driffield cricketer Noah Kelly is ready to start the ‘most important’ part of his fledgling career after Yorkshire County Cricket Club confirmed the teenager as one of its Academy players for 2022.

After being part of the junior set-up at Headingley since he was a youngster, Noah is now on a path previously taken by the likes of Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid which he hopes will lead to similar success.

Although this year’s Academy intake was only officially confirmed publicly last week, Noah and his family were given the news towards the back end of 2021.

I think now, more than ever, is the time to really knuckle down as I am getting to the most important part of my career, with the next step up from here being a professional contract

noah kelly

In the months thereafter, he has been travelled to Leeds for training sessions several times a week in preparation for the 2022 season, which is now underway for Noah and his teammates.

It’s been a winter of change at Yorkshire following the Azeem Rafiq racism row and the Academy is now led by James Lowe, who moved from Durham, where he played first-class cricket, earlier this year.

Lowe will be assisted by former England and Yorkshire player Jim Love and ex-Northamptonshire bowler Mohammad Azharullah.

A rain-affected game against Northumberland was something of a damp squib to Academy life for Noah, who didn’t make it to the crease in the season opener.

However, with two county competitions to play and new coaches to impress, there is plenty for Noah to look forward to during what could be a big year both and off the field for the Driffield School & Sixth Form student.

“I got a letter through the post towards the end of last September, inviting me onto the Academy system,” said Noah. “It was an extremely proud moment for my family and I.

“It was also a really rewarding moment for me that all the hard work I have put in over the years was recognised.

“Coming through the system, the Academy is always something everyone looks up to.

“I think now, more than ever, is the time to really knuckle down as I am getting to the most important part of my career, with the next step up from here being a professional contract.

“During the winter, I have been travelling to Headingley three times a week since about November.

“Now we are entering the season, our schedule for training changes every week depending on when our matches are.

“These matches tend to fall on Sundays with the odd two-day game during the week.

“With many of us taking exams this summer, we have a month break from Academy cricket, but then after our exams, games will be during the week, giving us space to start our three-day competition which I can’t wait to get stuck into having had a taste of multi-day cricket last year.

“James Lowe is really enthusiastic in training and he has a real drive for getting the best out of people.
“He always goes the extra mile and has a tendency to stay behind and work with a player if they are struggling in training.

“Also, being a former first-class batter and now a leading batter in Yorkshire Premier League cricket, his batting knowledge is brilliant to tap into when I am struggling with anything and I’m extremely excited to carry on this work with him during the summer.

“The national competition is a great way of getting yourself known to England Under 19 coaches. I feel we have a brilliant chance this year to put in some good performances and go all the way to winning it.

“There’s also an under-16 national competition this year which I fall into.

“We have a really strong squad of players at this age group and we went unbeaten in the competition last year, but unfortunately there was no national stage due to COVID.

“It’s going to be an exciting time for me with so much competition on offer.”

With plenty of cricket to be played at county level, Yorkshire recently decided to pull the Academy out of Yorkshire Premier League North.

This means that players will feature for their club sides on Saturdays, freeing Noah to play for Driffield Town, at the same time as playing cricket across all formats for the Academy.

The teenager is anticipating a strong season at the club, which he hopes can be replicated at county level.
“I’m always working and pushing for the best cricket I can possibly play at,” said Noah.

“Nothing is granted, so all I can do is play my best cricket for whichever team I play for and if I get a second team call-up, it will be a brilliant chance to show off my skills.

“To play for my home club at a place I have been going to since I could walk is always a privilege. Our squad this year is one with real depth and experience at this level.

“We are in a place, for the first time in many years, where we have a huge chance at winning the league.

“I think the most exciting part of this coming season is that for every team I play for, there is silverware to come away with, so my aims are to contribute to winning games with the hope of winning some competitions.”

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