COUNTY CRICKET: Performance Pathway to transfer to Somerset County Cricket Club – Bridgwater Mercury

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SOMERSET County Cricket Club will oversee the ‘Somerset Performance Pathway’ from the start of next month, it has been announced.

This means that responsibility for all age group squads, the ‘Emerging Player Programme’ and Pathway Centres for boys, girls and women’s cricket will move across from the Somerset Cricket Board (SCB) to Somerset CCC.

The SCB, created in 1994, is the governing body for recreational cricket in Somerset – supporting clubs, schools volunteers and running the county’s representative teams.

Based at the Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, the SCB’s stated aim is to “develop cricket at all levels throughout the county”, and its overseeing of the Performance Pathway has been rewarded with a steady stream of talent into Somerset’s 1st XI and also international level.

Today’s SCCC/SCB statement says: “The restructure of the Somerset Performance Pathway has been designed in order to effectively align within the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) County Partnership Agreement (CPA).

“In short, this is an agreement between the counties and the ECB, which will administer the growth, governance and funding of a number of areas within the game in line with the ECB’s overarching Inspiring Generations strategy, which is designed to ensure a prosperous future for the game at all levels.

“Previously, the responsibility of the Somerset Performance Pathway has fallen within the remit of the SCB and since 2016 there have been eight debutants in the Somerset First Team that have progressed through the South West pathway.

“In addition to this, 12 players have been selected to play for the England Under-19 squad and six full International caps have been awarded to Somerset CCC players.

“The Women and Girls game also continues to flourish within the region, culminating in Somerset Women lifting the Division 2 T20 title in 2019.

“The Women’s and Girls’ Pathway has already provided a number of exciting players including Sophie Luff, who helped Western Storm become the most successful side in Kia Super League history.

“The most recent success story has been Lauren Filer, who has been selected for the England Women’s Academy and the Welsh Fire Women’s Hundred squad.”

Somerset director of cricket Andy Hurry commented: “Firstly, it is important that we recognise the success driven by the Board over a significant period in helping to foster and develop players aspirations.

“The system implemented under the leadership and support of Andy Fairbairn, Matt Drakeley, Sophie Luff, Laura Lewis and the dedicated coaches and managers of all the teams across county age group and performance squads has enhanced opportunities for boys and girls from within the county.

“They can be proud of the delivery and support that they have provided.

“Cricket development is evolving at a rapid pace and the adoption of the Player Pathway will enable us to provide enhanced support for our aspirational players.

“It will enable us to lean on the experience of the county in order to enhance the support that we provide to our talented players and move their experiences closer to that of the professional male and female game.”

SCB executive director Andy Fairbairn said: “We are very fortunate in Somerset to have a complete Player Pathway.

“Our volunteers at clubs and staff at schools do a cracking job of providing playing opportunities, igniting a love for the game and facilitating individual development.

“The passionate and talented coaches and managers on the pathway work tirelessly in the winter and summer months to enable all players on the pathway to flourish.

“Crucially, Somerset County Cricket Club have an outstanding team of backroom staff who believe in West Country talent and developing our own.

“Switching responsibility of the male and female player pathway to Somerset County Cricket Club will ensure that more resource and expertise is available to the Player Pathway than ever before.

“It also enables Somerset Cricket Board to focus our efforts and resources more directly into our clubs, volunteers and communities to ensure the future participation and interest in the game is as high and sustainable as possible.”

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