ICC Europe has announced the names of 14 of Europe's finest young talents who will travel to India in February to take part in the ICC European Cricket Academy 2008.
It will be the first time that the academy has taken place outside of Europe as it relocates to the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai. The previous five academies have been held at Europe-based venues including Loughborough in England and more recently the excellent venue of La Manga Resort in Spain, and despite the tremendous success of these, a decision has been taken to further the player's education by a move to the subcontinent.
The academy will be organised through the Mumbai-based Global Cricket School which has an extremely talented team of coaches in place, the majority of whom have worked with Indian national teams at junior and senior level. In addition to this, the European players will be accompanied by a highly qualified ICC Europe coaching team led by the ICC regional development officer Philip Hudson. The team includes the ECB's head of elite coach development Gordon Lord, former Ireland coach Adrian Birrell and Stuart Barnes, the assistant coach at Gloucestershire.
The academy will be held between February 24 and March 5 and the programme will consist of five days of practice and three matches against a variety of opposition including an Under-19 state side. The matches will take the form of one two-day and two one-day matches.
"We have decided to move this year's academy to India to further develop the player's skills in a tough environment that will test all involved," said Hudson. "Holding the academy on the subcontinent will allow all players the opportunity to develop their game on different surfaces and in different conditions to what they have become accustomed to.
"All of these young cricketers have the potential to play for their national teams in the near future and with many of our Associate and Affiliate sides participating more frequently on the international stage, it is essential that they learn to play on different types of surfaces."
The 14 participants, all aged between 18 and 22, come from six of Europe's 27 ICC member countries - Gibraltar, Guernsey, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands and Scotland. ICC Europe is funding places on the academy for 13 cricketers and an additional place has been made available, thanks to the support of the Global Cricket Academy, taking the total up to 14.
Twenty-year-old spinner Solomon Varsulkar is the first Israeli to be selected to take part in an ICC academy. He has been selected for the event after producing phenomenal bowling performances for his country, including overall figures of 15 for 120 and 11 for 60 at the 2005 and 2007 ICC European U-19 Championships.
Commenting on what he hopes to gain from the opportunity Solomon said: "I know that there is still so much I need to learn about spin bowling and where better to learn than in India? Having lived in Israel since I was a small child it would be a dream to go back to my roots and play on famous grounds in Mumbai."
Also on the list are four Irish players, all of whom played for their country in the 2006 U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka. The four are former MCC young cricketer Gary Kidd, full-time professional Gary Wilson, who has recently signed a contract with Surrey, promising wicketkeeper-batsman Fintan McAllister and a graduate of the Middlesex academy, Andrew Poynter.
The selection includes three Scottish players, Richard Berrington, Andrew Hislop, who also all played in the 2006 U-19 World Cup, and Scott Redhead.
Three players will also travel to the academy from the Netherlands. Bob Entrop, Timothy Gruijters and Maurits Jonkman have all performed for their country in ICC European Championships at all age groups up to Under-23 and now aspire to play for their full national side with the ultimate goal of gaining professional county contracts. In doing so they will follow in the footsteps of Alexei Kervezee who is himself a graduate of the 2005 ICC European Academy and went on to sign a contract with Worcestershire and compete for Netherlands in the 2007 World Cup.
Guernsey players Kris Moherndl and Blane Queripel, and 18-year-old Kieron Ferrary of Gibraltar, whom have all competed in their countries national sides, are the final three Europeans to make up the 14.
European Academy Squad 2008 Kieron Ferrary (Gibraltar), Blane Queripel, Kris Moherndl (Guernsey), Gary Kidd, Fintan McAllister, Andrew Poynter, Gary Wilson (Ireland), Solomon Varsulkar (Israel), Bob Entrop, Timothy Gruijters, Maurits Jonkman (Netherlands), Richard Berrington, Andrew Hislop, Scott Redhead (Scotland).