Monday, October 26th, 2015

Full Academy Structure In Place As Part Of Development Programme

Full Academy Structure In Place As Part Of Development Programme

The full Academy group is just the top of the Worcestershire CCC pyramid trying to ensure a conveyor belt of talent is constantly produced which will eventually be good enough for first team cricket.

The 11 youngsters who will form part of the 2015-2016 intake, announced earlier this month by Academy coach Elliot Wilson, are the group who are closest to potentially breaking into the second eleven and ultimately the senior side and earning professional cntracts.

That has happened with two members of the 2014-2015 intake in paceman Josh Tongue and spinner Ben Twohig.

They have signed two year professional contracts and will report with the squad at the start of November for training and fitness and conditoning work.

But underneath the full Academy squad is a full Worcestershire development programme in place from Under-10s through to Under-17s.

Wilson explained: "The programme for the full 2015-2016 Academy group starts in November. They have got a month of fitness work with fitness and conditioning coach Ross Dewar with initially very little cricket.

"They've got a three week block of cricket before Christmas, will enjoy Christmas, and then we've got January, February, March when they've got a lot of cricket to get through, a lot of work to get under their belts and hopefully set them up for a good summer in 2016."

The next level behind the full Academy group is the elite player group and that consists of Ryan Wheldon, Xavier Clarke – younger brother of Joe Clarke – Musharraf Shazad and Ewan Wilcox.

Wilson said: "We are in a situation this year where we've got four or five other guys in our programme who are quite exciting but a bit younger.

"But with the rapid progress they've all made in the last 12 months, and the fact they are coming into their GCSE year at school, we just felt the flexibility of coming in and out of programmes when it worked around their commitments, was going to be better.

"That is Ryan Wheldon, Musharraf Shazad, Ewan Wilcox and Xavier Clarke."

The next level is the emerging players programme, then the junior emerging players programme and underneath that is Worcestershire's CCC satellite academy programme.

These are situated in Shropshire and the Black Country and are run by former Worcestershire paceman Paul Pridgeon and Dave Manning respectively.

Wilson said: "We are really pleased with not just the Academy group we have pulled together but the programme as a whole with the introduction of a few tiers of players in terms of our Elite Player Group and Emerging Player Group, our Junior Emerging Player Groups and the Satellite Academies

"We've got a development programme from Under-10 through to Under-17 and then the cream of that crop are involved in our performance programme which is things like our Junior Emerging Player Programme, our Emerging Player Pogramme, our Elite Players Programme which leads into the full Academy programme."

Wilson is delighted to see Tongue and Twohig earn their first professional contracts at New Road.

He said: "If you were to get one through every two years, you'd be doing quite well.

"To get two through in one year, and to look at ones we've got sitting on the radar behind them, we might be in a very fortunate position at the moment – and then we've got to start working on the next batch."