2019 was a very encouraging year for the progress made by players to have come through Warwickshire's academy and player pathway. While Rob Yates, George Garrett, Dan Mousley and Ethan Brookes made their Men's first-team debuts, the likes of Issy Wong, Ria Fackrell and Milly Home were helping the Bears Women to glory in the Vitality County T20 Cup.
As the Bears’ academy continues to go from strength to strength, here we take a look at the 12 players who make up the Class of 2020.
An Under 17s batsman, Balaji made his 2nd XI debut for the Bears last summer and scored over 700 runs for the Under 17 and Under 19s, as well as contributing usefully with the ball. He also scored three-half centuries in almost 400 league runs for Walmley CC.
A talented all-rounder, Ballinger’s left-arm seam bowling was hampered by injury last season but she shone with the bat, scoring her maiden county century – an unbeaten 101 against Buckinghamshire. Her hard work and progress has earned her selection in the England Women’s Academy training group.
A hamstring injury in August truncated Bethell’s 2019 season but not before his progress as an all-rounder earned him his 2nd XI debut. A left handed batsman and left-arm spinner, he bagged a five-wicket haul against Yorkshire 2nds while his impressive composure with the bat brought a century against Nottinghamshire Under 17s in the ECB County Championship.
Burnell enters his Under 18 year on the back of a fine 2019 season which brought him 958 runs for the Bears’ Under 19s and Under 17s teams. Having made his 2nd XI debut last season he will be looking to add more games for the 2nds and continue to develop his off-spin bowling as well as his batting and impressive fielding.
Another Bear to be included in the England Women’s Academy training programme, Fackrell will combine Warwickshire duty with playing for Loughborough MCCU. Her top-order batting was a key component of the Bears Women’s T20 triumph in 2019 and earned her selection for Lancashire Thunder in the Kia Super League.
Staffordshire left-arm seamer Hughes was inducted into the academy last February after a successful winter on the EPP and trip to Sri Lanka with the academy group. He also made his 2nd XI debut in 2019. He has progressed his seam bowling well this winter which was unerringly reliable and accurate last season in red and white-ball cricket.
A student at the University of Birmingham, Milly is emulating Rob Yates and George Garrett as proof that pursuing the dual aspiration of sporting and academic excellence is entirely possible. A talented batter/off-spinner, her input to the 2019 cricket season was disrupted by a visit to Canada to represent England in the Under 19s Lacrosse World Cup.
Birmingham-born seamer Johal impressed last season by showing the attitude and focus on fitness to match his undoubted ability. He made his 2nd XI debut, and bagged a couple of ‘five-fers’ and took the new ball for West Bromwich Dartmouth in the Birmingham League.
Kelley is another recruit from the Bears’ increasingly productive Staffordshire partnership. A batter/wicketkeeper, he enters this year as an Under 17 and will be looking to push hard for his 2nd team bow in 2020.
Having come to Warwickshire’s attention in 2018 through a breakthrough year for Suffolk and in Under 17s cricket, batsman Oxley impressed in his winter work at Edgbaston last winter and went on to make his 2nd XI debut last season. After spending this winter at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide he will play for Knowle & Dorridge in the Birmingham League next season.
As a right-handed local batter, Shaikh’s immense potential is illustrated by his inclusion in the academy aged just 13. Very correct and composed at the crease, he made his debut for both the Bears 2nds and for Knowle & Dorridge 1st XI towards the end of last season – one of the youngest in recent memory to do so.
One of the fastest bowlers in women’s cricket, Wong took the new ball in most Warwickshire matches in 2019 and also played for Southern Vipers in the Kia Super League. A member of the full England Women’s Academy, this year she will complete her studies at Shrewsbury School, where in 2019 she made history by becoming the first female to play for the School 1st XI.