Stuart Poynter is seeing early returns on his work as a coach in Northumberland’s pathway system.
The Ireland Test wicketkeeper/batter was recruited by Northumberland’s head coach Dan Shurben after he was released by Durham at the end of last season with the aim of helping to develop players at the top end age groups of Northumberland’s youth system.
Poynter has also succeeded Michael Richardson, another former Durham player, as Northumberland’s professional so he can also see at first hand the fruits of his labour.
Against Herefordshire at Brockhampton last Sunday one of those players, Sacriston batter Ed Foreman, made his debut and played a composed innings of 37 which helped steer Northumberland to a three wickets victory.
“When I was released by Durham last year, Dan Shurben offered me a job as a pathway coach with the Northumberland Cricket Board,” Poynter said.
“Coaching is the route that I want to go down in the next part of my cricket life. He then sold me the vision he has for the County Cricket Club which was really exciting.
“We have a really young team and Dan said he needed a bit of experience which is where I came.
“As a coach I do the Under-16s and Under-18s and I worked with Elite Player Pathway players during the winter.
“The county have a Development team and around half of them are from the EPP and Under-18s and the other half play for the county side.
“So it works quite well with me playing with them on a Sunday and then coaching them during the week.
“I get both sides. I get to watch them on the field and then on the other side of the field.
“Ed Foreman is a good example. He’s been involved with Northumberland from the age of 11 and I coached him during the winter.
“We had a couple of drop-outs because of injury last week so he got his opportunity and he took it with both hands which was really rewarding to see.”
After more than a decade of first-class cricket, first with Middlesex, then with Durham, and 47 appearances for Ireland across all formats, Poynter brings valuable experience to Northumberland and also a fresh pair of eyes as a newcomer to National Counties cricket.
“I was always aware of National Counties cricket but I had never seen the standard. Quite a number of the lads at Durham had played it,” he said.
“The standard is really good and it has surprised me how good the teams are and how competitive it is.
“You are not pals, everyone is there to win. That’s something that we work on – not being the nice lads, we are there to win.
“We have played at some amazing grounds which is something that I have really enjoyed, going to places I have never been before.
“Every ground we have played at has been brilliant. We have been well looked-after and it feels like for the clubs that we have been to see it as their big day and their chance to impress.”
Poynter has also found himself back in opposition to some familiar faces from his time with Durham with Riki Wessels (Staffordshire), Harry Dearden (Cheshire), Graham Wagg (Shropshire), Mark Footitt (Lincolnshire), Richard Gleeson (Cumbria) and Matt Pardoe (Herefordshire) among those he has faced in Northumberland’s Trophy and T20 matches so far.
“It’s been interesting to chat to the pros to see where they are in their life,” Poynter said.
“It’s good to see that there are some big pros in National Counties cricket and that can only lift the standard.”
Having gone six years without a win in the National Counties Trophy, Northumberland have now won two in a row in the 50 overs competition and will go in search of a third when Oxfordshire visit Jesmond this Sunday.
“We actually thought that we would do better in the Twenty20 but that didn’t quite go to plan but only because we lost tiny little moments. We didn’t get smashed in any game,” Poynter said.
“I think the lads have taken a lot of confidence from that and a lot of them are doing brilliantly for their clubs in the league.
“They have hit so many balls in the winter, they have done more personal training than they have done before so the system is working the way Dan is doing it.
“All we can do is take each game at a time. Hopefully we can get another win on Sunday which would put us in a good place to qualify for the quarter-finals.”