Warwickshire is searching for Bears stars of the future to join it’s under-11s to under-18s youth development programme.

Hundreds of boys and girls applied last year after the Club opened up its selection process to make it easier for all children, irrespective of their background, to apply for its junior ranks.

Boys (U13-U18) and girls (U11-U18) can now apply by submitting video of them batting, bowling or wicket-keeping for assessment by coaches, whereas previously only local clubs, schools and cricket organisations could nominate players.

Video is supplied on WhatsApp to a dedicated number: 07933 467334 for boys and 07933 467333 for girls. Applications are open until mid- September. 

Of the 400 video applications received last year, 72 boys and 48 girls were invited to attend a series of coaching sessions last winter, with seven boys and 29 girls making it onto the county pathway.

A further 55 boys were offered places at a regional development centre or MCC Hub development programme. 

Warwickshire was the first professional cricket club to introduce such a system which is run in partnership with Birmingham City University.

And according to Bears High Performance Manager, Paul Greetham, it’s helping more youngsters realise their sporting dreams.

He said: “Applications were up 30 per cent last year which shows the new system is working and attracting interest from children who might otherwise not be on our radar.

“I’d encourage families, teachers, coaches and children themselves to send in footage so we can take a look. It could be a first step to an exciting career in cricket.

“Increasing numbers of our pathway prospects are now state educated – around three in five – and 57 per cent of boys and 40 per cent of girls are from diverse backgrounds.

“We’re also trying to ensure that cost isn’t a barrier to any child as costs associated with our pathway have been removed and bursaries are available for children needing support.

“Birmingham City University have been instrumental in making this new applications programme happen. It is a fantastic opportunity to work with them on an initiative that has really helped to drive accessibility.

Birmingham City University (BCU) co-funded research looking at how bias and a lack of objectivity can impact selection decisions – and that research formed the basis of the new pathway process.

The Club has created two videos outlining the open trials system and explaining what video footage needs to be submitted for batters, wicket keepers and bowlers.