AFTER 22 years of heading the Huntingdonshire County Youth Cricket Committee, David Holmes has stood down as chairman. The post will be taken up by Andy Donald, from Eltisley, who has been involved with cricket his whole life. Holmes, from Peterborough, t

AFTER 22 years of heading the Huntingdonshire County Youth Cricket Committee, David Holmes has stood down as chairman.

The post will be taken up by Andy Donald, from Eltisley, who has been involved with cricket his whole life.

Holmes, from Peterborough, took on the role of county youth chairman back in 1986 when the county fielded just one youth team in the Under 19 age group, who played just one friendly and took part in the Cambridge Cricket Festival.

Inside a year the county had established an U17 team and in four years an U13 team were playing competitive county matches.

In 1990 Holmes helped structure a Kwik Cricket schools competition for junior schools, with the final at Ramsey featuring 10-year-old Charlotte Edwards representing Somersham against Fulbridge Road from Peterborough. By 1995 Huntingdonshire had taken over the organisation and running of the schools U15 team and by then had established county representative teams from U11 to U19.

Holmes was quick to praise the help from those around him. "It has been 22 years of hard but enjoyable work made easier by those who have helped move everything forward," he said. "The most difficult aspect was raising the funds to support the structure that we had put in place but fund raising by groups and individuals and grants for various organisations went a long way".

Huntingdonshire County youth teams compete with all the other counties and Holmes has seen county teams compete in the Channel Islands cricket tournament, win national leagues and reach the latter stages of major youth competitions under his tenure. He has also overseen young players gaining regional and national recognition, with Huntingdonshire club teams reaching the finals of national competitions and young cricketers play in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, South Africa, West Indies, and beyond.

"There are so many young players that have taken the opportunity to develop their own game from the roots laid down by the county and I'm sure under Andy [Donald] many more will follow," said Holmes.

The Huntingdonshire Youth committee gained the county full recognition by Lords in 1997 when the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was established. It is still one of the smallest of the county boards within the ECB.

Holmes wished to make it clear that he is still heavily involved in the county set up and he has remained as Chairman of the Huntingdonshire County Board.

Andy Donald, who is stepping up to the role, described Holmes's contribution as "pretty immense."

"I've only known David for two years but to me it's a vital role and if he has done it for that long as a volunteer you have to take your hat off to him really," he said. "It will be hard to live up to him as all the time we want to move things on. I hope I can do as well as him and I will give it my best try."

Donald has been playing cricket since he was seven years old and kept playing at county level until his early 40's.

He has been coaching the youth team in Waresley for seven years, and has two sons who are currently coming through the ranks there.

"One thing we are looking to improve at the moment is the coordination between schools, clubs and the county. This was a scheme started by David and we want to increase the link with schools across the county.

"If we improve the youth facilities and have good younger players then we will soon have good adult players. We already have three players playing for major counties at the top end and if we can keep producing these players then that really is the elite.

"Another big thing we want to do is to get Huntingdonshire recognised as a full minor county by the ECB and then we'll see an improvement throughout the county.