The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) today announced the 2003 scholarship holders for the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy (CBCA).
The 25 players, who will participate in the academy's residential program for two six-week blocks between May and August, are:
Eight players selected in the academy squad have already made their first-class debuts, including Western Warriors quartet Scott Meuleman, Luke Ronchi, Callum Thorp and Peter Worthington, Southern Redbacks pace bowling duo Mark Cleary and Shaun Tait, Queensland batsman Nick Kruger and Tasmanian Tigers and Australian all-rounder Shane Watson.
Twenty-one-year-old Watson, who was a CBCA scholar in 2000, returns to the academy program this year.
Watson will work specifically with Australian bowling great Dennis Lillee as part of his rehabilitation from a back injury that forced him out of Australia's World Cup campaign in February.
South Australian Cleary also made his Australia A debut at the WACA Ground in Perth in April, in the final one-day international match of Australia A's series against South Africa A.
Four other members of this year's CBCA intake have played in Australia's domestic one-day competition, the ING Cup. Victorian wicket-keeper Adam Crosthwaite, Queensland batsman Nick Kruger, and Southern Redbacks pair Callum Ferguson and Trent Kelly all made their ING Cup debuts in season 2002-03.
Crosthwaite and Kelly are also two of five CBCA scholars who were part of the 2003 Australian Under-19 team that contested a series of four-day and limited-overs matches against the England Under-19 side this season.
Tasmanian pace bowler Luke Butterworth, New South Wales batsman Daniel Christian and Victorian pace bowler Matthew Gale were the other members of that team.
ACB General Manager, Game Development, Ross Turner, said the academy had developed a strong record of success since it was established in 1987.
"Over the past 15 years, the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy has built an impressive reputation for developing and refining the skills of Australia's elite young cricketers," said Mr Turner.
"Since 1987, the CBCA has produced 139 first-class cricketers, 32 of whom have gone on to represent Australia at either the Test or one-day international level.
"In Australia's recent World Cup victory, 13 members of the 17-man squad graduated from the academy, and that is indicative of the strength and quality of the program.
"This year's intake again features some promising players, many of whom have already started to exhibit their skills in Australia's domestic first-class and one-day competitions, and many others who have reached underage state representation.
"With the experienced coaching staff and the continued support from our principal sponsor, the Commonwealth Bank, and the Australian Sports Commission, the academy is well placed to maintain its record as a quality finishing school for young cricketers."
AIS Director Michael Scott said the significance of the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy should not be underestimated.
"The achievements of the CBCA and the Australian Test, one-day international and domestic cricket stars it produces, is testimony to the academy's philosophy, facilities and coaching," said Mr Scott.
"The coaching staff, headed by Bennett King, has taken the CBCA to a new level of professionalism in the preparation of Australia's next generation of elite cricketers.
"The CBCA is a successful model that cricket authorities and other sports around the world strive to replicate."
Commonwealth Bank Executive General Manager of Brand Marketing and Information Management, Graham Ford, said the Commonwealth Bank is delighted to play a supporting role in the development of Australia's most talented young cricketers.
"The Bank is extremely pleased to continue its long term support of the Commonwealth Bank Cricket Academy, which has proved to be a vital part of ensuring that the nation's leading young cricketers have the opportunity to reach their full potential," said Mr Ford.
The 25 scholars involved in the main program will live at the AIS training base at Henley Beach in South Australia for two six-week blocks between May and August.
The players work with the CBCA coaching staff, led by head coach Bennett King and senior coaches Wayne Phillips, David Moore and the newly appointed John Harmer, to refine and develop their skills.
The 25-player squad was selected by CBCA head coach Bennett King, in consultation with the head coach of each state and territory cricket association, the Chairman of the National Selection Panel, Trevor Hohns, and the AIS.
This year, 30 other young cricketers from around Australia will attend the academy as camps-based scholarship holders.
They will travel to Adelaide for a series of camps during the year to work on their specialised skill in fast-bowling, batting, spin bowling or wicket-keeping, before returning to their state squads.
The academy also offers an overseas program for international scholars and teams to visit and train at the academy.
RHB - right-hand bat, LHB - left-hand bat, WKT - wicket-keeper, OB - right-arm off-spinner, RM - right-arm medium, RMF - right-arm medium fast.