ACADEMY

The Middlesex Academy officially opened in October 2003, since when the county's best 12 young cricketers aged between 15 and 18, have received specialist group and one-to-one coaching specific to their own individual needs.

Already, three players have progressed to a full contract (summer) with the County Club - Billy Godleman, Steven Finn and Chris Wright - and five of the present cohorts are involved with the England set up at different ages.

As part of the annual programme, and in keeping with ECB's National Academy Programme, each player attends the Finchley Indoor School each Tuesday and Wednesday night throughout the winter, before further training and matches take place during the summer months.

The Academy Programme, written and delivered by Academy Director Toby Radford and his coaching and sports science staff, provides players with support in technical, tactical, physical, psychological and lifestyle areas.

Top psychologists Richard Thelwell and physiologists from Team Fitness - fitness providers for the professional staff - have helped enormously in creating both mentally and physically tougher cricketers. Combined with the vast tactical and technical knowledge on offer from the likes of John Emburey, Jason Pooley and fielding coach Julien Fountain and more "complete cricketers" are beginning to emerge from a conveyor-belt type system.

Several Middlesex First Team Players including captain Ben Hutton and wicket keeper David Nash have also contributed to specialist sessions and one-to-one clinics at the Academy. The input of coaches Graeme West and Keerthie Ranasinghe has also been invaluable this winter.

A thorough and robust reporting structure, with each specialist compiling regular reports for the players, helps towards building an extensive player information database, invaluable as the talented youngsters move upwards through the club. In addition, each player is analysed on computer using Quintic, the very latest sports analysis system where footage taken on digital video camera from nets or matches is transferred onto a laptop and viewed, frame by frame, to highlight technical and tactical issues.

Quintic's ability to split images on screen and for players' footage to be synchronised alongside that of the world's best performers adds even more to the learning process. There can be little more powerful for any young batsman than to have his strokes moving on screen in unison with those of a pre-recorded Sachin Tendulkar or Ricky Ponting. Bowlers too, can benefit from having technical comparison made with the likes of Shane Warne, Allan Donald or Glenn McGrath.

Last winter a Junior "Sub-Academy" for players aged between 12 and 15 years of age was launched to offer more coaching to the best of the younger players. As with the senior Academy, emphasis here is also placed on improving fitness and fielding as well as on honing individual technical and tactical skills.

For further information please contact Academy Director Toby Radford on 020 8346 8020 or toby.radford@middlesexccc.com

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