Tymal’s rapid rise

TYMAL Mills is one of the many success stories of Kevin Boardman’s (pictured right) cricket coaching career.

Boardman has been the inspiration behind a whole generation of talent to come through the ranks at Mildenhall Cricket Club over the past three decades, including opening bowler Mills who made his first-class debut for Essex against Sri Lanka last weekend.

Boardman, who first got involved in coaching as a teacher, volunteered to look after Mildenhall Youth Single Wicket competition – and hasn’t looked back since. That was back in 1983 when the club ran sides at U15, U17 and U21 level.

He said: “It was thought impossible then that younger players could play – and we played just 12 games in a season!

“We then had 15 players at U17 level and below. The age ranges have changed over the years – we now have an U8 section and have around 60 league players.

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“It is a common misconception that Mildenhall have a huge amount of youth players. That is just not true – there are many other clubs who have more than 120 youth players – but we have about 70. We do work them hard by playing over 100 games a season.”

Boardman is hugely proud of his achievements – the teams he has coached have won more than 100 cups, including 30 plus county cups, and reached three national finals.

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“We have been to the National U15 final three times – but that is the icing on the cake. Seeing 50 plus cricketers play every Saturday morning then putting out four adult teams that afternoon is a weekly high,” he said.

And Boardman, a former all-rounder who was more of a batsman – he once scored three centuries in six days – than bowler and could also keep wicket, admits watching his proteges perform is what makes it all worthwhile.

He said: “I get most satisfaction from watching the players perform and seeing coaching coming to fruition. Also, from getting a text message from a youth player to tell me of a great score or wickets taken by them.”

Boardman, who said that he dislikes the modern approach that sees “hours spent filling out mindless forms and computer-based information in the belief that it improves the game”, said all his coaching takes place in the winter while matches are played in the summer.

“In the winter we have around 50 at our Saturday morning coaching sessions. We have an indoor bowling facility that is used by over 40 youth players on a regular basis.

“I coach seven hours a week in the winter, while in the summer I am involved with teams, warm-ups and matches for many hours.”

Boardman also paid tribute to those people who have inspired him and his coaching.

He said: “Bill Abbs, Bill Sharp and Peter Finnis, all of Mildenhall CC, have had a big impact on me and my coaching plus the parents at MCC over the past 30 years – they have been and still are wonderful. I am really grateful for the many club members who give up their time for free to help.”

He said he does not know what the future holds for himself or Mildenhall Cricket Club.

“I am not sure, but that is all part of the fun.

“What will our U8s be like in three years’ time?” he mused.

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