Head coach Paterson excited about Devon's forthcoming under-20 campaign
DEVON Under-20 head coach Lewis Paterson is already getting excited about the forthcoming County Championship campaign.
The Green and Whites will open their group fixtures away at Somerset on February 11, 2018, before hosting Berkshire at home on March 18.
However, before that they will play two tough warm-up matches against top tier sides Gloucestershire and Cornwall.
They will play Gloucestershire at home (venue still to be confirmed) on January 21 and Cornwall at Brickfields on January 28.
Last year Devon only had one warm-up match and started their campaign slowly before reaching the quarter-finals of the County Shield.
Paterson is hoping the county can at least match that achievement and certainly be better prepared.
Prospective Devon Under-20 players met for the first time this week at Ivybridge.
“It was nice not only for the players to meet but also the coaching and management staff,” said Paterson, who will be joined on the Devon coaching set-up by Roger Hutchinson, Nathan Gosling and Cameron Setter.
“We emphasised the importance of meeting early so we can iron out any problems.
“We have had a massively positive response from clubs and players.
“We had between 20 and 30 lads on Monday. It has been hugely pleasing to see the response and commitment from young, talented players.”
He added: “We got to the quarter-finals last year with limited preparation - we didn’t have much training.
“Now we want to build on last year and with the amount of boys turning up on Monday there is no reason why we can’t.”
Paterson believes having two warm-up games will mean they are better prepared.
“The key is that the games are against two strong teams,” said Paterson. “They are not just warm-up games against any club or mixed team. Cornwall and Gloucestershire are well-developed county sides. For our boys to have the chance to warm-up against them is brilliant.
“Having two games means we will be able to go through a lot of players and see where they are at. It will give us a real insight playing against two good teams as it will show us if players are capable of holding their own in the County Championship.”
Devon did have a few survivors from last year’s under-20 campaign at training on Monday, including last year’s captain Mitch Pinkus and number eight Robin Luscombe.
“Mitch and Robin are two good players from last year who both got into the Devon senior squad,” said Paterson. “Mitch also played for the South West.
“Ben Collins is another who played last year, while Wes Vermigle trained a few times last year with the squad.
“It is really pleasing to see some boys last year who got a lot out of it are back involved.”
All clubs in the county were asked to nominate players and it was not just the top sides that recommended players. And at least two Devon One clubs have had players invited to join the Devon Under-20 training squad on the back of nominations.
“It is good players that have been put forward and selected,” said Paterson. “This is an honorary thing and it is great that players have performed so well for their clubs that they have been put forward to come up here and put their hat in the ring for selection.”
Top picture is Devon Under-20 coaches Roger Hutchinson (left), Lewis Paterson (middle) and Nathan Gosling (right).