Worcestershire have announced their 2023-2024 Academy intake and the 11 strong group includes five newcomers.
Pace bowlers Ben Clements (Under-18s) and Ollie Smith (Under-17s), middle order batter Fin Goodman (Under-16s), all-rounder Toby Cox (Under-16s) and wicket-keeper batter Joe Porter (Under-15s) will be part of the Academy for the first time.
They will link up with Josh Leach, Seth Essenhigh, Alfie Higgins, Louis Hursthouse, Jack Home and Ben Clarke who have been retained from the previous intake.
The Academy will begin their winter training at Malvern on November 12 and work for six weeks up until Christmas before another block of 13 weeks through until the end of March.
Worcestershire Academy Coach Elliot Wilson has given an insight into the quintet of newcomers.
Ben Clements – “He is an Under-18 in his final year at school. He has been in and around our programme as one of our pathway cricketers since 10-11 years old. A local lad from Hanley Castle, and plays for Barnards Green.
“He is a fast bowler and, we feel with the pace he has the ability to bowl at, and with the amount of movement we’ve had at our club with our fast bowlers, it’s a real opportunity for someone like Ben in the next 12 months to see where he can get to.
“He missed the second half of the summer with a stress fracture in his foot but before that he had some spells where he bowled with some genuine pace and he made his debut for the Seconds in a T20 game against Warwickshire as a last minute replacement.”
Ollie Smith – “He is someone who first came to our attention at the start of 2022. He is from Telford way, a fast bowler, and we were playing a Sub-Academy game at Bridgnorth against Shropshire when he was 15 and I liked a lot of what I saw in the action.
“We offered him some support, he came down in the winter and trained with the satellite Academy and full Academy. He looks seriously built to bowl, very tall, wiry and strong.
“There is a lot to be excited about in terms of pace potential but also as a character. He plays for Newport Cricket Club (Salop) but is now going to go and play for Wellington in the Birmingham League.”
Fin Goodman – “Fin is now going into his GCSE year at Nunnery Wood School in Worcester. He is a middle order batter who went to the Bunbury Festival this year and did reasonably well.
“He has played some Under-18 cricket for Worcestershire this summer and he made a vital contribution against Wales at Kidderminster when we were in a bit of a hole and got 80 odd and played really well.
“He’s also played some dynamic innings in our T20 cricket and there is a lot to be liked about him. He trained with the Academy last winter and it’s a natural progression for him to now join the Academy for the next 12 months. He plays at Worcester Cricket Club.”
Toby Cox – “The youngest of three brothers and he is a cricketer who went to the Bunbury Festival this year as a seam bowler and got picked for a lot of cricket this summer because of his bowling.
“But Toby can also definitely bat and he will progress into what we hope he will be a genuine all-rounder, one of your four seamers who can bat, we hope, in the top six.
“He was selected for the Young Lions ‘Best v Best’ game at the end of September and he is someone we feel has a very high ceiling in terms of his future potential. He currently plays for Bredon Cricket Club and is also in his GCSE year.”
Joe Porter – “He is Under-15, in year 10 at school, he plays for Pedmore Cricket Club and is a wicket-keeper, top-order batter. He is someone who has been in our Sub Academy programme for a couple of years and has made some really good progress.
“He has been effective in league cricket, men’s cricket, which is a good effort for a 14-year-old, and he came in and played in an Under-18 three-day game against Warwickshire this summer when the two keepers weren’t available.
“Keeping-wise, he was outstanding for three days and took to it like a duck to water.”
Wilson has also been pleased with the progress made by the six players who are returning as part of the Academy.
He said: “Ben Clarke has performed very well for school, for Barnards Green in their first year in Division One of the Birmingham Premier League, and has also done well for Worcestershire.
“Jack Home has performed strongly at school, for Shifnal, for Shropshire and for Worcestershire in the Academy games.
“Louis Hursthouse is a 16-year-old who played a lot of Under-18 cricket for us this summer. He fell one run short of his maiden century in Under-18 cricket and made a valuable contribution in the ECB Plate final against Surrey.
“Those two performances by a 16-year-old in Under-18 cricket show a player of some potential growth moving forward.
“Josh Leach has played a lot of cricket this year, contributed in so many ways in our Under-18 cricket and also played good strong league cricket for Chester Boughton Hall in the Cheshire League which is where he lives. He showed some nice progress.
“Seth Essenhigh has had quite a remarkable summer. Played in the Seconds against SACA and scored some runs, and other Seconds games, gone to the Bunbury Festival and performed exceptionally well.
“He’s gone to the Young Lions and done the same. He’s had a very successful summer.
“Young Alfie Higgins has done what we kind of hoped he would do and has started to evolve his game from really young boy’s cricket into young men’s cricket.”
Worcestershire CCC 2023-2024 Academy Intake