Samit Patel is challenging graduates from Nottinghamshire’s academy to “bang down the door’ for selection in 2017.
The academy has brought through a number of key players, including England international Jake Ball and Brett Hutton.
The likes of Luke Wood, Matthew Carter, Jake Libby, Tom Moores, and Ben Kitt will embark on the 2017 campaign aiming to force their way into the side and become regulars.
Patel recalls his own experiences vying for a position in a Nottinghamshire side that won the LV= County Championship in 2005 and admits that – with hindsight – to earn a regular first team place earlier in his career, he needed to do more.
“It was a very, very good side with a lot of experience,” he said.
“I was in and out. It was a hard team to get into, but I learned from the likes of Jason Gallian, Darren Bicknell, Stephen Fleming, David Hussey, Chris Read and Paul Franks.
“It was a core of players who knew exactly what they were doing, day in, day out.
“I got some good scores in the second team and thought I should be playing. But looking back, it’s a great line-up, you’re not getting in.
“Mick Newell and Wayne Noon told me to keep banging on the door and if they don’t answer, knock it down.
“I used to get the odd 50, 60 and 70 and expect to play first team cricket. Looking back now, I don’t think you should. It was very naïve from me to think that.
“I was in and out of the first team quite a lot, I didn’t play much in the ones when I was 17, 18 and 19, but I played a lot of second team matches.
“There was a knock I played at Knowle and Dorridge Cricket Club against Warwickshire where we knocked off 380 to win in two sessions. Me and Bilal (Shafayat) got us home.
“That was probably my breakthrough innings, but on the whole I was probably underachieving in second team cricket.”
Patel recalls being earmarked as a future star as something of a mixed blessing which brought its own challenges.
He added: “People will say “this guys going to go a long way” but only you can go out and play the game.
“Getting tipped for the top is one thing, but going out and doing what needs to be done, yourself, is very different.”
Below the Academy graduate pros is another crop of talent, featuring in age-group cricket from U11s upwards.
The sport of cricket came naturally to Samit Patel, precipitating a rapid rise through the age groups and into the senior setup – and playing men’s cricket as a boy is something he strongly recommends to those youngsters.
“If I was good enough, I was old enough,” he says.
“I went straight into the under 15s when I was 12. I made my second team debut at 13 – and I pretty much went straight from my GCSE year, whilst still at Worksop College, to being in and around the professional squad and playing a lot of second team fixtures.
“It was mentally hard, but that challenge can bring out the best in a player.
“You don’t know whether someone is ready to step up to a certain level until they play.
“Especially at club cricket level, I think the earlier you blood them into senior cricket the better because they learn to play against adults that bowl faster and hit the ball harder. They become better players as a result.”