Wiltshire Cricket Limited has announced a talent pathway partnership with Gloucestershire Cricket that will see the two counties working together to support the player pathway in Wiltshire, as well as other areas of cricket development within the county.
For the past two years, Wiltshire Cricket has delivered an Emerging Player Programme in the North of the county supported by Gloucestershire Cricket and in the South of the county supported by Hampshire Cricket but from the 2018-2019 winter onwards, Wiltshire Cricket will be aligning with one First Class county to form a deeper relationship that will benefit all aspects of representative cricket in the county.
Speaking of the partnership, Wiltshire Cricket Limited Managing Director, Pete Sykes, said; ‘Our Emerging Player Programme is a coaching programme for our most talented cricketers aged between 13 and 17 and over the past two years we have received fantastic support from both Gloucestershire and Hampshire Cricket in delivering two programmes in Wiltshire. However, looking ahead we wanted to investigate the opportunity for aligning fully with one First Class county and seeing what benefits we could derive from committing ourselves to that one partnership. We also hope that by aligning to one county we will give greater clarity to our players and stakeholders with regards to how the player pathway in Wiltshire works’.
Specifically, the partnership between Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Cricket will see Gloucestershire Cricket providing coaching resource to support delivery of specific skillset sessions to county age group players during the autumn followed by delivery of the Emerging Player Programme during the winter and summer. However, the excitement for Sykes comes from the additional opportunities and initiatives that the partnership will present; ‘For the past two years we have been very grateful to Gloucestershire Cricket for the commitment they have given to our Emerging Player Programme, however when conducting the process of identifying which county we will align with we were particularly impressed by the quality of Gloucestershire’s proposals and how they see this as a partnership that will extend beyond just the Emerging Player Programme’.
Speaking of those additional initiatives and opportunities, Steve Silk, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Cricket Board Limited, was equally positive; ‘As well as supporting the EPP as we have done over the past two years we are looking forward to launching various initiatives to support the wider talent pathway in Wiltshire. This will include supplementing the EPP with access to additional sessions at the Brightside Ground in Bristol, offering opportunities for players and coaching staff in Wiltshire to be part of matchday experiences in Gloucestershire and running talent evenings for players in Wiltshire who may currently be outside of the Emerging Player group. Most importantly, we think this alignment can be the start of a partnership that has many opportunities to expand. As an example, an important part of ECB’s current Cricket Unleashed Strategy is ensuring that as well offering great playing opportunities we also offer opportunities to inspire fans, and as such we will be able to offer Wiltshire players, schools and clubs access to ticketing and membership opportunities in Gloucestershire’.
Over the coming weeks, both Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Cricket will be sitting down to produce the final details of the agreement that will be signed between both counties for the period up to 2024. As Sykes explains, this is important to ensure that the partnership works; ‘We have gone through a thorough process in reaching the decision to align with Gloucestershire Cricket and as part of that process there have been many ideas discussed between the two organisations. We now want to ensure that all of those ideas are brought to life and as such having a formalised agreement is important in order to ensure clear accountability from both sides. Wiltshire Cricket is very proud of its county age group teams and of its identity as a high performing cricket board. We are, therefore, very excited by the opportunities that this partnership offers in terms of enhancing our talent pathway offering and strengthening the opportunities that we offer to our players, coaches, associations and partners’.