WHILE Chris Tremlett prepares to see in 2011 as the England’s latest academy graduate to win the Ashes, you could forgive his former Hampshire teammate Derek Kenway for wondering what might have been.

Nine years ago, Tremlett and Kenway were two of the 17 young players picked for the England and Wales Cricket Board’s inaugural academy boot camp in Australia.

After a decade of underachievement that ended with England rated as the world’s worst Test nation, the Hampshire duo were earmarked as two of the talents that could revive their country’s cricketing fortunes.

Their contemporaries during that 2001/02 winter in Adelaide include several players who have already made their mark at the highest level.

England captain Andrew Strauss was among them and Ian Bell and Graeme Swann have developed into world-class Test players.

Also on that trip were three heroes of England’s unforgettable 2005 Ashes success; Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Simon Jones, who joined Hampshire last year.

Having claimed 13 wickets in two Ashes Tests since replacing the injured Stuat Broad, Tremlett now has every chance of establishing himself as a Test regular in 2011.

Kenway’s professional career ended when he was released by Hampshire in 2005. But he could not be happier after spending Christmas with his wife Katie and their baby daughter at home in Park Gate.

“There’s certainly life after cricket and my life’s turned out pretty well,” said the 32- year-old, who for the last five years has worked just a few miles from the Rose Bowl as the contracts manager for Botley Roofing, the family firm.

“I was released by Hampshire on the Friday and was in my office the following Monday," he smiles. "It was nice to make a clean break. I knew cricket wouldn’t last forever and that at some stage I needed something to fall back on. The transition into the roofing game was pretty simple.”

Kenway’s time with England's academy is a world away from his life as a new father. For the last five years he has starred for Totton & Eling CC in the Southern Electric Premier League, but will not even be doing that next summer.

“I’ve got other priorities now,” he says. “Becoming a dad is my biggest achievement and I don’t want to miss my daughter growing up.”

Kenway has always been a family man (he flew back early from the academy for his mum’s 50th birthday party). But what does he remember of his time in Adelaide?

"It was so long ago it seems like like it happened to someone else - and when I pick up a bat now it feels like it must have been someone else!” he laughs.

“I remember a lot of running and a lot of ducking, bobbing and weaving in the nets trying not to get bruised. I thrived on quick bowling but preferred to be in the spinners’ net than have Jones, Harmison, Flintoff and Tremlett tearing in!

“Simon Jones was terrifying, especially in the nets. Being so enclosed, everything seemed to happen even quicker indoors. He bowled really, really quick on that tour.”

Kenway struggled to maintain the required fitness levels throughout his career, but he was never fitter than at the end of that boot camp.

“It was a shock to everyone’s system,” he smiles.

“Most people on that tour didn’t have a great season when they came back partly because it was such a tough trip. It was very fitness orientated, which is very much the England way now.

“I found that tough. I knew I’d have to pound the pavements and do as much as I physically could but it was day in, day out without a rest and not much cricket.

“We only played six games in five months so it wasn’t what I was expecting. But training with the quality we had on that tour was only going to benefit people and it got me in good shape.

“When I came back to Hampshire I wasn’t at the back of the runs like I used to be.”

Other members of that England Academy included former England batsmen Owais Shah and Rob Key while Strauss, Bell and Swann have retained the Ashes they won in 2009.

“We would have competed with most international teams!" laughs Kenway. “Strauss, Key and myself had all cemented ourselves in our county teams and were the ones who had played the most cricket.

“Owais was churning out runs at Middlesex and was seen as the next batsman to push into the England team. He hits the ball so cleanly, is the sort of player captains find it difficult to set fields to and his attitude was great.

“But they didn’t see something we all saw. I don’t know why he didn’t play more [for England]. It’s a shame.”

The England captain was then Shah’s lesser-known Middlesex teammate.

“Strauss always had a real presence about him,” recalls Kenway. “Everyone knew how good he was, it was just about whether he’d get that opportunity and he might not have done if [Marcus] Trescothick was able to tour. But he’s certainly the right man for the job now. Nothing fazes him.

“He showed that when [Ricky] Ponting was spitting his dummy out. He’s got the respect of the lads and that’s a big thing."

Bell was only 19 that winter, while Swann had already played a one-day international, aged 20, against South Africa two years earlier.

“Belly didn’t have the power we had but with his technique he was always one who was going to succeed," Kenway continued.

“Swanny was always a big spinner of the ball but you always knew he would give the odd four-ball to release the pressure. But he’s matured and turned into a fantastic cricketer. He’s also a lovely bloke, a really fun guy to be around.

“He’s very comical and will have a great career after cricket. I think he might be the next Bumble!”

Tremlett, meanwhile, could be an England regular for the next five years. “I’m not surprised how well he’s done and I don’t think he’s reached his full potential yet either,” Kenway said.

“He’s going to be a world beater. We all knew about his ability and it’s great to see him succeeding.”

Tremlett has joined a stellar graduation list but Kenway is not the only member of the ECB’s class of 2001/02 not playing professional cricket.

Nicky Peng, a precocious Durham talent, was the youngest tourist. But he is now working in property development. Matthew Wood, the former Yorkshire opening batsman, is playing club cricket in Huddersfield.

Other academy graduates that year were fast bowlers Alex Tudor and Steve Kirby, Glamorgan wicketkeeper Mark Wallace and Chris Schofield, whose career has fluctuated more than most.

Kenway added: “There were nearly 20 egos on that tour with everyone thinking they were going to be the next big thing but I can’t remember a bad word on the whole tour between anyone. It was a great trip."