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Cricket academy bowls over competition

25 February 2010

Cardiff MCCU in action in the final of the MCC Universities Challenge at LordsCardiff MCCU in action in the final of the MCC Universities Challenge at Lords

A universities cricket academy which in the last five years has helped to develop players to the first-class game has been re-launched in a bid to promote the scheme to aspiring young players.

The Cardiff MCCU is a cricketing centre of excellence involving Cardiff and Glamorgan Universities and the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC).

It is one of six such initiatives in the UK supported by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) - one of the world’s most famous cricket clubs and owners of Lord’s Cricket Ground. MCC has recently announced an investment of £1.65M in the six MCC Universities over the next three years.

The centre has an impressive record, winning twice at Lords in recent years to capture the MCC Universities Challenge and is seen as a high-achieving MCC University. Cricketers with promise are supported by the centre, enabling them to further their careers and fulfill their playing ambitions whilst at the same time continuing their education.

Commenting on the re-launch, Stuart Vanstone, Head of Sport and Exercise at the University said: "The centre of excellence provides our students with a performance-focused environment which can enable promising male and female cricketers to excel in the game as well as their studies. Specific one-to-one coaching delivery is timetabled to enable maximum contact with the coaches outside of wider group sessions. The students receive cricket-specific delivery as well as strength and conditioning and nutritional support and other performance lifestyle skills training. Funding has been secured for the next three years and it is hoped that the scheme can further support the development of talented young cricketers into the county and international game."

Outlining the selection process, Director of Cricket at Cardiff MCCU and former first-class player and umpire Kevin Lyons said: "Twenty players are selected to form a squad, which partake in a structured coaching and training schedule from October to March, dovetailing into a demanding playing fixture list until the end of June. It is a serious nine month commitment alongside the careful planning of a degree course. Selection is on a yearly basis, and players are assessed not only on technical ability, but attitude, approach and a genuine desire to work hard on their own game and team development. Consistent performances in competitive matches and an ability to learn from playing experience is the biggest factor in a player’s development though."

"We work very closely with the Welsh Cricket Board and the Glamorgan County Cricket Club academy as well as other first-class clubs to identify talent before university entrance in order to plan ahead."

Cardiff University players who have progressed from the scheme to the professional game include: Mark Pettini, Captain, Essex CCC; James Tomlinson, Hampshire CCC; and Mike Reed, Glamorgan CCC. Both Glamorgan and UWIC have also seen students play at county and national level.

First year Biomedical Sciences student Heather Knight has also recently proved that she is one of the rising stars in English Women’s Cricket after being called up to join the England women’s team on tour in India (15 February – 9 March).

Stuart Vanstone, Head of Sport and Exercise, said: "For Heather as a first year student to be called into a squad of senor international cricketers who have had great success over recent years is a credit to her commitment and performance levels in the sport. We will continue to support Heather through the many support programs at the University, including weekly one to one coaching sessions with Kevin Lyons our performance cricket coach. We look forward to Heather’s return and wish her well on the tour."

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