Northern Knights Head Coach Simon Johnston has been awarded his Level Four Coaching Certificate by the ECB.

It's the culmination of two years hard work in the ECB's flagship programme for the 41 year-old.

Amongst his peers on the course were former  England Test  players Marcus Trescothick and James Tredwell, as well as former Ireland Head Coach Phil Simmons.

There were a number of world leading tutors for this elite programme, including Mark Ramprakash, Peter Moores, John Emburey, Peter Such, Mark Garaway and Jon Lewis.

'Jonty' was required to attend five week long stays at the state of art cricket facilities at Loughborough University over the duration of the course, which he described as 'an incredible learning experience'.

One of the many benefits has been his establishment of a network of like-minded coaches from the English county system, and he has been able to tap into their contacts and experiences.

In 2020, aided by DFC funding, he helped set up a two-day trip to Surrey for both pathway and performance coaches to ascertain how their youth and elite programmes run.

The NCU has also hosted a number of guest coaches, with luminaries such as Steven Croft, Greg Smith , Darren Thomas and Matt Spriegel all attending the Ulster University at Jordanstown to deliver masterclasses for both the boys and girls squads.

Simon Johnston with his CI Coach of the Year Award

These have proved incredibly popular and he hopes to not only continue but expand these relationships and initiatives over the coming years as the NCU continue to invest and develop their growing pathway programmes.

Johnston is a two-times winner of the Cricket Ireland Coach of the Year award, and was appointed Head Coach of the Northern Knights in 2016.

Other Irish coaches who have achieved a Level Four Award in recent years include former Irish internationals Ryan Eagleson and Ted Williamson.