Four Worcestershire CCC pathway players have been chosen to be part of the Central Sparks inaugural Academy intake.
Ellie Anderson, Charis Pavely, Phoebe Chew and Hannah Hardwick have been selected to be part of the Sparks development programme for the next 12-month period – with the aim of eventually graduating to the senior side.
It is another feather in the cap for Worcestershire CCC after Emily Arlott last month secured a domestic contract with the Sparks and following the achievements of Rapids spinner Sarah Glenn for England during the past 12 months.
Central Sparks is a Sporting Centre of Excellence for high-performance, professional cricketers, featuring the best female players from the West Midlands region covering Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
Anderson, 17, a right-handed batter and right-arm medium pace bowler, and 16-year-old Pavely, a left-handed batter, are both at Bromsgrove School.
Chew, 17, is a wicket-keeper batsman at King Edward’s School, Stourbridge, while Hardwick, also 17 and a right-arm fast bowler, is studying at Oldswinford Hospital School in Stourbridge.
The quartet will continue to play for Worcestershire this summer alongside their commitments for the Sparks.
Worcestershire CCC Academy Coach Elliot Wilson confirmed: “Central Sparks have just announced their first Academy intake and to have four girls from the Worcestershire pathway programme selected is a great effort.
“All four will still be members of Worcestershire’s Under-17 and senior squads but will also be supported by Central Sparks moving forward for the year.
“Central Sparks is a development programme to produce the next group of Central Sparks senior players, a preparation centre, a programme to support the development of players we hope will go onto play for Central Sparks in the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy and the domestic women’s first-class competition.
“It forms part of the eight regional hubs which are raising the profile of women’s cricket in the UK, providing an opportunity to create 40 additional professional cricketers training and playing full-time on top of the 20 players that are contracted to England.
“It also helps to bridge the gap from domestic cricket to the international game. We now have a domestic structure to prepare players better to make the step up from domestic cricket to playing for England.”
Wilson has himself played a vital role in developing the Sparks, including a three-month role spell last summer as acting Lead Coach in the inaugural Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy – an experience he says can only have benefitted his coaching education.