Worcestershire CCC have finalised their 2017-2018 Academy intake with four promising youngsters participating for the first time.
Leg spinner Josh Dickenson, wicket-keeper batsman Henry Cullen, left arm spinner-batsman Peter Clark and opening batsman Callum Lea have been selected.
Here Worcestershire CCC Academy Coach Elliot Wilson gives a run-down on the background and qualities of the quartet who will start the programme from next month.
Elliot Wilson said: “This winter he will be part of the Under-15s and is a year younger than we would normally look to bring players onto the full Academy programme.
“His performances have been excellent – his intelligence, his hunger, his humility as a person combined with the skills he has got as a cricketer – a lower middle order batsman, a right arm leg spinner and a great fielder – get us all very excited about where he might be able to travel.
“This year he has played Under-14 County Cricket for Worcestershire, he’s had his first year at Malvern College and has played some first team senior cricket for Barnards Green.
“In addition to that, he has played a number of Academy games, playing against 18 and 19-year-olds, as a 14-year-old. Ha has also done similar things for Barnards Green CC, on his debut for them taking a five-for in the Birmingham League.
“It is not just his performances which excite us but as a character, as a learner, he is smart in what he does, he asks questions, he really is quite an exciting and talented young man.
“He is a Worcestershire boy. He played District cricket as a 10 year old and then has played county cricket at Under-10s, 11s, 12s, 13s, 14s and he was lucky enough to take up a scholarship offer at Malvern College starting last September.”
Elliot Wilson said: “He is the same age as Josh (Dickenson) so it is two quite young ones to bring onto the Academy. He is a wicket-keeper-batsman. As a character, he has been outstanding.
“He is smart, hungry, you take him out of his comfort zone and he does it with a smile on his face. He is a real good character.
“Both Steve Rhodes from a keeping perspective and Kevin Sharp from a batting perspective, really pushed hard for Henry to be included on the programme because of what they saw in him in terms of his potential, not necessarily what he is doing now, but the potential moving forward.
“I actually thought he hadn’t quite done enough in terms of his performances to warrant him coming on the Academy but when Bump and Kev were so keen, I was keen to get him on because of the other characteristics he brings to the table.
“He has played County Under-14s and Under-15s and played a little bit of Development Squad cricket as well which is our Under-16s.”
Elliot Wilson said: “He went to the Bunburys with the Midlands Under-15s as one of four of our lads who were selected this year.
“As a result of his performances there was chosen for the Best Of Bunburys at Loughborough at the end of the summer.
“He did very well for Shrewsbury School in the first team, then went to the Bunburys and did very well and broke into our Under-17s Championship side and played three out of four three-day games and bowled as well as anyone.
“He is a left arm spinner and is a decent batter in the middle order plus being a smart cricketer
“He has come through the satellite Academy programme system with Paul Pridgeon at Shropshire.”
Elliot Wilson said: “Callum is going into his final year at Malvern College. He is from Himley Cricket Club and been with us from year zero almost.
“He has been on the pathway, county age-groups, EPP and skills sets. He has been on the batting skill set for the last three years and has always shown potential but hasn’t always backed that up with performances.
“This year he has scored runs, is a top order batter in red ball cricket and looks like his role in white ball cricket is more five or six
“Callum is an old school cricketer in the sense he has traditional red ball skills of being able to concentrate and bat for long periods of time. He loves to occupy the crease.
“This year as an opening batsman he scored a double century against Hampshire at Basingstoke in a County Under-17s game.
“He was considered this season to play Seconds cricket but school commitments prevented that.”