Leicestershire High Performance Coach Russell Cobb recently landed a prestigious award from the Sky Sports ECB Coach Education Programme in a ceremony in the Long Room at Lord’s.
Cobb was named National winner in the award given for Outstanding Coaching Achievement last weekend and was presented with the honour at the Home of Cricket by England fast bowler Steven Finn.
The annual awards, which are part of the programme that goes under the heading ‘Coaching for Coaches’, are designed to recognise and celebrate the country's leading cricket coaches and promote excellence in coaching.
A total of 24 regional winners were selected from 120 nominees across the three award categories and Cobb was one of three overall winners in the country, which is an outstanding achievement.
With over 20 years of experience in youth coaching, Cobb coaches up-and-coming batsmen right through the Leicestershire and Rutland Cricket Board pathway.
That passage starts at district and county level, progresses to specialist groups and the Emerging Players Programme and runs through to the Academy.
Cobb’s input is also critical at the next stage in a player’s development, which is the huge step into the professional game.
Cobb has seen son Josh come through the ranks among other highly talented young batsmen such as James Taylor, who has represented England Lions this year and is on the England Performance Programme in Australia this winter.
Josh, along with Greg Smith, are two youngsters who played their age-group cricket at Kibworth, where Russell is also very active on the coaching front.
Cobb was delighted to win the award and said: “I was honoured to be put forward by the LRCB Coaches’ Association and it was great to accept the award.
“It was a lovely evening and I feel that I am in a privileged position. A lot of the people put forward on the night are volunteers and I am able to coach for a living.
“I feel lucky to be in that position and I’d like to thank everyone who volunteers for their hard work and dedication to the game around their day job.
“I’d also like to thank the Coaches’ Association for putting me forward, Neeta Patel for her hard work in administration and everybody who coaches and volunteers their services behind the scenes.
“Schools, clubs and parents also play a massive role in the development of players and I’d like to thank them too. It really is a team effort.”
As well as getting stuck into coaching, Cobb does a lot of hard work behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly.
He writes all of the programmes and plans all the sessions for the District, Leicestershire Young Cricketers and The Midlands Cricket Age Groups and is also involved with the ECB Coaching Association as a tutor on many courses.
Cobb thoroughly enjoys his job and seeing progression of youngsters makes it all worthwhile.
He said: “That is a rewarding part of the job. Coaching is rewarding at any level, regardless of age or ability, providing there is progression.
“It is also so pleasing to see many young players making it into the Leicestershire first team. We have developed the infrastructure at Grace Road and that brings talent to the top.
“Greg Smith and many others all had fantastic seasons and it bodes well for the future. If we can keep that nucleus of young players together and bring other people through, then it can only be good for Leicestershire cricket and its supporters.
“We have all got that attitude to strive for excellence and will not settle simply for being competent. Everybody will continue to learn and we want to keep bringing those young players through.”
The award is testimony to all of the hard work put in by Cobb and everybody behind the scenes and everyone at Leicestershire CCC would like to congratulate him on the honour.
* The ECB also announced this week that 33,000 coaches have graduated from the Sky Sports ECB Coach Education Programme since the scheme was launched four years ago – a figure which would exceed the capacity of Lord’s cricket ground.
The latest figures – which include 10,000 coaches who qualified in the last year alone - were revealed as ECB announced that Sky Sports will continue its sponsorship of the programme for a further three years.
Mike Gatting, ECB Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships said: “It’s enormously encouraging to see so many newly qualified Coaches.
“Coaching is vitally important to the future of the game and we are grateful to Sky Sports for their investment in the programme.
“It enables ECB to cater for the ever-increasing number of boys and girls wanting to take up the game in England and Wales.”
Andy Flower, England Team Director, was also full of praise. He said: “Whether you are coaching a team of under 11s at grassroots level or working with professional cricketers at elite level, acquiring the right skills is absolutely essential.
“The Sky Sports ECB Coach Education Programme is very comprehensive, offers something for everyone and it has my full endorsement.”
Former England coach and Sky Sports commentator David Lloyd said: “This is a fantastic programme and I’m not surprised it’s delivering such impressive results.
“There are teaching modules to suit all ages and abilities and the quality of training gets better and better. Everyone at Sky Sports is proud of the association and I’m pleased this will continue for another three years.”