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Warwickshire’s investment in developing young players is higher than ever as the Edgbaston Academy welcomes three new entrants

Warwickshire have welcomed Harry Johnson, George Garrett and Bethan Ellis as new entrants into the Edgbaston Academy.

The trio were welcomed into the academy for the coming year after impressing the coaches along the Player Pathway programmes sufficiently to suggest they have potential to ultimately make it through to the Bears’ first teams.

Harry, George and Bethan join Mohammad Ahmed, Henry Brookes, Georgia Davis, Ben Griffin and Robert Yates in the academy.

And as academy director Paul Greetham welcomed them, he underlined the club’s ongoing commitment to unearthing local talent capable of following the likes of Ian Bell and Chris Woakes all the way to the top level.

Warwickshire’s commitment to “growing their own” is nothing new. Since its inception in 2001, the Edgbaston Academy has produced 27 professional cricketers. Ten of the current Bears professional squad came through it.

But that commitment has never been greater than now.

“The club has never invested more resources in the Player Pathways than this year,” said Greetham. “Our commitment to spotting and nurturing the best local talent is greater than ever. No other county gives it higher priority.

“I’m delighted to welcome Harry, George and Bethan into the academy. They have earned their places by showing the ability and temperament they will need and we’ll continue to work with them to help them make further progress towards the first-team squads.”

Coming to the end of his third year at Edgbaston, Greetham has overseen a number of changes to the Bears’ youth set-up for 2017.

Among them is that the Emerging Players Programme now encompasses U15s-19s instead of, as previously, U13s-U17s, and the junior version (JEPP) has been discontinued in favour of ‘skill set’ and 1-1 sessions, giving a greater number of county players coaching in their primary skill – batting, bowling, keeping.

“We made that change because research nationally suggests that sport has been trying to spot talent too young, perhaps before physical and skill maturation,” Greetham said. “At the younger end of the scale, from U9s to U12s, our emphasis will be on numbers rather than quality. We just want to bring loads of youngsters into the system, help build their love for the game and then see the skills that emerge.”

For the first time next year there will be two Under 10s squads to keep the talent-pool as broad as possible. These squads will play more internal games as well as a mini-programme of fixtures against other counties.

“We think the changes will really help us develop the quality we have in the system,” said Greetham. “There is a lot of talent there throughout the age-groups, not least among our south Asian boys, and that is very exciting to see.

“Working collaboratively with all our partners – the Birmingham League and feeder leagues, local clubs and coaching organisations, with whom we have great relationships – our objective is to give those youngsters every chance to become the best they can possibly be and become first-team cricketers for the Bears.”

That objective is resoundingly supported by Warwickshire chief executive Neil Snowball.

“We have a proud history of producing home-grown talent and challenge ourselves to continue to do that not just for Warwickshire but also for England,” he said. “Our Player Pathway programmes are integral to that goal.  In 2017 we will be investing more resources than ever in our youth programmes and look forward to seeing the next generation of young players running out at Edgbaston in years to come.”

Warwickshire Academy

  • Mohammed Ahmed (U18, Berkswell CC)
  • Henry Brookes (U18, Knowle & Dorridge CC)
  • Georgia Davis (U18, Walmley CC)
  • Bethan Ellis (U18, Berkswell CC & Standard CC) *new*
  • Harry Johnson (U18, Kenilworth Wardens CC) *new*
  • George Garrett (U17, Harpenden CC) *new*
  • Robert Yates (U17, Moseley CC)
  • Ben Griffin (U16, Knowle & Dorridge CC)

Warwickshire EPP

  • Matthew Davison (U18, Leamington CC)
  • Khayam Khan (U18, West Bromwich Dartmouth CC)
  • Finlay McCreath (U18, Grange CC)
  • Ria Fackrell (U17, Standard CC & Berkswell CC)
  • Tiarna Gilkes (U17, Nuneaton CC)
  • Jacques Banton (U16, Barnt Green CC)
  • Ethan Brookes (U16, Knowle & Dorridge CC)
  • Alice Dixon (U16, Walmley CC)
  • Edmund Gaffney (U16, Little Stoke CC)
  • Daniel Grounds (U16, Moddershall CC)
  • Amelia Kite (U16, Astwood Bank CC)
  • Daniel Mousley (U16, Kenilworth Wardens CC)
  • Archie O’Hara (U16, Wolverhampton CC)
  • Grace Ballinger (U15, Walmley CC)
  • Jeevan Barhey (U15, Rugby CC)
  • David Burnell (U15, Kings Langley CC)
  • Awais Mohammed (U15, Berkswell CC)
  • Isabelle Wong (U15, Knowle & Dorridge CC)
  • Shoaib Akhtar (U18, Fordhouses CC)