Warwickshire County Cricket Club has graduated pace bowler Manraj Johal from its Academy to the professional ranks.

Having recently studied at Sandwell College and Oldbury Academy, Johal, who turned 19 yesterday, currently takes the new ball in the Birmingham & District Premier League for West Bromwich Dartmouth and been a Bear since the under 11s age group. He graduates after a year in the Warwickshire Academy and two years in the Emerging Player Programme (EPP).

Warwickshire’s High Performance Manager Paul Greetham, said: “During his time in the pathway, Manraj has shown how determined he is to reach the top and he has also proved that he could overcome notable setbacks along the way. 

“During lockdown he got stronger and fitter than ever by getting out running along the canals and by working on his skills by bowling to his Dad in his garden. Four years ago he was deselected from the EPP but reacted by winning his place back the following year by having an excellent season in the county age groups and in the additional skill set groups.

“He has demonstrated the character, skill sets and resilience that we want to see in a Warwickshire cricketer and whilst we have high hopes for him with the ball, Manraj offers a lot with the bat and is strong in the field.

“Manraj has worked very hard to get to earn this rookie contract and it’s for him now to grasp this opportunity and to prove that he can make it in the professional game.”

Johal moved to West Bromwich Dartmouth CC in 2018 from Olton & West Warwickshire CC, which also the first club of Henry and Ethan Brookes. He was given the new ball later that season and has taken 60 First XI wickets at an average of 20.7 to date.

As part of the Club’s partnership with Staffordshire Cricket, Johal played two games in the National County Championship in 2019 in addition to games for Warwickshire Second XI.

“I’ve always played cricket ever since I could remember and it’s always been my goal to play for Warwickshire,” said Johal.

“Having worked hard to earn this initial contract and I’m very grateful to everyone who has supported me in the pathway. I fully appreciate that there’s a lot more tough yards ahead to make it as a Bear, but I’m going to give it everything and can’t wait to get started when we return to training next month.” 

Ian Westwood, Second Team Coach at Warwickshire CCC, said: “Manraj has a nice repeatable action with a good heavy ball and he has impressed us at every opportunity when he has been around the professional ranks.

“He bowled a lot of overs last year and showed real promise in his performances in the Second XI and for Staffordshire. We invited him on this year’s pre-season tour at La Manga Club and then into the July training programme where he also performed well. 

“Throughout last winter and ahead of this recent season, he has put himself forward for extra sessions, but he has also shown an understanding of how a fast bowler should prepare by dedicating a lot of time to his strength and conditioning. 

“We’re delighted to see him come through into the senior men’s squad and are very excited about his potential.”