ECC Media Release
The ICC European Development Program is sending two young cricketers from two of its Associate Members to the World Cricket Academy (WCA) in Mumbai, India in February.
Spinners Greg Thompson of Ireland and Scotland's Umair Mohammed will spend eight days, based at the Cricket Club of India, from 5 February and the pair can expect to be put through their paces by some of the top local coaches.
The new initiative arises from a joint venture between the European Cricket Council (ECC) and the WCA. Each of the two organisations will fund the trip for one of the duo while the ECC will also provide an opportunity for Irish coach Brian O'Rourke to join them.
Thompson, a right-arm leg-spinner, who plays with Durham University Cricketing Centre of Excellence and English county Lancashire, has represented his country at every age group from under-13 (U/13) to full senior level.
The 19 year-old has also competed in the ICC Intercontinental Cup and two ICC U/19 Cricket World Cups, in Bangladesh in 2004 and Sri Lanka last February.
Mohammed, a right-arm off-spinner who can also turn his hand to medium pace, made his debut for the Scotland senior side in 2006, playing in European Championship matches against Denmark and Italy.
Like Thompson, the 21 year-old Dundee-born player took part in last year's ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup in Sri Lanka. Mohammed was also the leading wicket-taker in the European U/23 Championships in 2005 with 10 wickets in three matches, including a remarkable 5-5 against Denmark.
The coach accompanying the two players, Brķan O'Rourke, has been working full time in coaching and development in Ireland for the past 8 years.
He has attended the last two ICC U/19 Cricket World Cups as Ireland coach and has worked closely with members of the Irish senior squad that will head to the ICC Cricket World Cup in the West Indies in March.
In Mumbai, O'Rourke will work with Thompson and Mohammed as well as the team of coaches out there, something that should further enhance his skills as a coach.
Commenting on the venture from an Irish perspective, O'Rourke said: 'The chance for myself and Greg to visit India next month offers further evidence of the excellent cricketing opportunities being provided to Associate Members around the world.
'The Academy hosts many English county cricketers who travel to India to improve their game and I am sure the experience gained will no doubt benefit both of us and Irish cricket in general.'
Two of those county cricketers include former Ireland batsman Ed Joyce - now part of the England squad currently in action in Australia - and a current member of the Ireland side, Eoin Morgan, both of them contracted to English side Middlesex.
Other current and former England players who have spent time at the WCA include Andrew Strauss, Anthony McGrath, Chris Read, Gareth Batty, Paul Franks and Michael Yardy.
A typical daily schedule includes breakfast at seven o'clock followed by a warm-up and net session in which fifteen to twenty different bowlers will bowl at the duo with their every move analysed using high-tech coaching equipment.
The players will then undergo a session with one of the academy's coaches and will also analyse their morning's work ahead of a further net session and more feedback from the coach in the afternoon. An evening yoga class usually rounds off the day.
Toby Briggs, one of the WCA's staff, added an insight into what the players can hope to get out of their stay in Mumbai when he said: 'The spin bowlers will be practicing accuracy and going through the fundamentals and this will all be captured on video so they can review their faults and work on them instantly.
'They will be working first-hand with some of the best teachers of spin in the country and will get an insight into how to bowl spin in India and the different lengths they will need to find while bowling on different surfaces.
'And given the WCA program takes place in India where the wickets will offer turn the duo will also learn to bat in an environment and conditions which will improve their ability to play spin.' Philip Hudson, the ICC Regional Development Officer for Europe and, together with Briggs, the driving force behind the new initiative said: 'This opportunity will allow the continued development of the European High Performance Programme.
'Over the last three years we have seen the introduction of a Coaching and Development Conference and the continued improvement of the Centre of Excellence and European Cricket Academy
'A considerable number of players that attended our Academy programmes in those three years have now established themselves as permanent members of their senior national squads.
'The ICC's Global Cricket Academy will offer even greater opportunities for players and coaches from Europe, and elsewhere, to develop their skills once it is open in 2008 and we are truly excited about that development.
'In the meantime, with this latest initiative, Greg, Umair and Brian will get a wonderful opportunity to learn about sub-continent conditions and further develop their skills and, off the back of their time in Mumbai, we hope it will not be too long before the two young players become senior internationals on a regular basis.'