Warwickshire County Cricket Club has awarded a first contract to fast bowler Che Simmons who graduates from the Club’s Academy to join the professional ranks on a three-year contract.

Barbados-born Simmons (18) trialled with the Bears last summer and he was subsequently awarded an Academy place, which is combined with his studies on the Sandwell College Cricket Education Programme. He also plays for Solihull Blossomfield Cricket Club in the Warwickshire County Cricket League.

“Che has made an incredible transformation over the winter,” said Warwickshire High Performance Manager Paul Greetham. “It’s a challenge for any young sports man or women to come into a new culture and to understand the step up to a high-performance environment. But with the support of many good people around him, Che has shone.

“He has quickly adapted to the strength and conditioning requirements of an elite athlete, but our Academy tour of Sri Lanka in February was a turning point where he stood out as a senior member of the team. He bowled hostile spells and had significantly enhanced his batting, fielding and leadership skills.

Paul Greetham

“Che has had great backing from Paul Law and his colleagues at Solihull Blossomfield, who have looked after him brilliantly, but also Scott Thomas and Sandwell College for supporting his education, which will continue over the next 12 months. However, it’s now with him to take this next step up to the professional arena and we’re very excited at what he could achieve.”

Simmons holds a British passport and will qualify for England on residency grounds in 2024. He took four wickets for the Second XI in last week’s victory over South Asian Cricket Academy at the Edgbaston Community Sports Ground at Portland Road.

Che Simmons said: “Warwickshire and Edgbaston are known around the world and to get this opportunity to become a professional and wear the Bear and Ragged Staff is something that I’m relishing.

“I’m very grateful to the support of all of the coaches, friends and family who have supported me on the journey so far and hopefully I can make a lot of people proud by stepping onto the field as a Bear.”

Paul Farbrace, Director of Cricket at Warwickshire, said: “Che was recommended to me by Otis Gibson around 18 months ago. He subsequently trialled and we were very impressed by his potential. He’s gone on to work incredibly hard with our coaches and we think that he could have a very long and successful career with Warwickshire and potentially England.

“Che’s progress over the last 12 months is testament to the work of Ian Westwood and the wider coaching team. Not only have they graduated six local cricketers to the senior ranks in the last three years, but the Academy is attracting some of the most promising young cricketers from around the world.

“Producing our own and developing players to play for England are two of our core cricketing principals and, alongside Che, we’re very excited about the potential of many other young cricketers within our pathway.”