Kieron takes on vital role in development of game

With more than 20 years' experience of club cricket in Norfolk, Kieron Tuck is well-equipped to be the man responsible for developing the game in the county.

Phil Banyard

With more than 20 years' experience of club cricket in Norfolk, Kieron Tuck is well-equipped to be the man responsible for developing the game in the county.

The 35-year-old, who has played for Cromer, Swardeston and Sheringham, was recently appointed as the Norfolk Cricket Board's development officer and he is relishing the challenge of his new role.

He said: "It's a job that I've always had an eye on, because I know Norfolk cricket well. Cricket has always been my number one sport and I would just like to help make a difference in improving things around the county.

"I'm trying to get out and meet the clubs - from my years playing in the leagues, I know most clubs but it is a case of reacquainting myself with the various personalities and getting to grips with any specific issues clubs may have."

Godfrey Batley stepped down as development officer last year after 11 years in the job and his replacement, Richard Honnor, resigned after less than six months in the post.

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Batley has been on hand to offer advice and support and Tuck said: "Godfrey has been great. He has been very supportive and you cannot underestimate what he has done over the years, he has set up so many things."

Tuck's role is wide-ranging, but he is initially focusing on improvements in three key areas - facilities, coaching and club development.

He said: "Myself and (NCB chairman) Keir Hounsome are in the process of completing a facilities strategy and my own feeling is that we should be gearing it towards improving net facilities. They are crucial to a club's development, providing practice facilities, not only for seniors but right the way through the youth set-up, but not that many clubs have got high quality net facilities.

"We have got five Level Three coaches in the county and Chris Brown is working towards his Level Four qualification, which would make him an international standard coach.

"What we would like to do is increase the number of level three coaches to double figures and also to increase the number of people who can tutor coach education courses, which would allow us a bit more flexibility in terms of where we hold courses throughout the county.

"One of the problems we have is that Norfolk is a big area to cater for.

"But overall the coaching set-up we have in place is very good and the work Steve Goldsmith does with the academy is of very high quality."

Developing girls' cricket and disability cricket is also part of Tuck's remit.

"We are required by the ECB to assist in those areas, it is not an optional extra," he said. "We already have some very good things happening, particularly in the west of the region.

"Horsford had a very good ladies' team, but they found that the frustrating thing was they had no-one to play against."

Tuck is investigating the possibility of integrating ladies teams into the existing district set-up to potentially offer more regular competition for women's cricket, in conjunction with improved participation at club level.

"We need to make sure we keep them in the sport, there are plenty of talented players about, but we need to work out how to keep them interested," he added.

Tuck was born in London, but moved to Norfolk at the age of six and his love of cricket was developed at Gresham's School. He joined his father, Evan, at Cromer and played for the club for 17 years before a brief spell at Swardeston and then Sheringham, where he still plays occasionally.

He also played two seasons in South Africa at the invitation of Cromer's overseas player at the time, John Hartley.

His sole appearance for Norfolk came in 1996, in a two-day match at Buckinghamshire. "We only lost three wickets in the entire game and I was due to bat at number six, then I wasn't picked for the next game. It's a shame and it's something I would have liked a crack at, but it wasn't to be," he said.

While Norfolk are in a losing run presently, Tuck is confident that the county has a bright cricketing future. He said: "I work for the NCB, the county club is a separate entity, but obviously we want success for Norfolk. If we do our jobs right by delivering grass roots cricket and putting the right structures in place, the county club will inevitably benefit.

"It is hugely encouraging already to see only one or two players from outside the county in the side. When I played, you were talking about five or six ex-pros and they were taking up key roles in the side, but that is not the case now."