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Connor heralds expanded U15 competition

The ECB's Head of England's Women's Cricket, Clare Connor, is looking forward to the England Women's Development Programme Under-15 summer competition, with an expanded 36 players set to take part in this year's tournament.

The competition has expanded its intake from the 26 players invited in previous years, as the organisers look to give greater opportunity for young cricketers to enter the women's cricket pathway.

The week runs from July 29 until August 2 at Wellington College in Berkshire and will feature two 40-over matches, two Twenty20 matches and a series of educational and developmental classroom-based sessions, where the selected players will immerse themselves in workshops ranging from cricket nutrition to strength and conditioning and injury prevention.

A thorough talent identification and recruitment process has helped choose the best young players from across the country, who will be joined by a local county boys side for the week's programme.

Connor told ecb.co.uk: "The key development this year is that it's a longer competition, taking place over a full week. It also involves more players reflecting the number of high potential players being recommended to us by the counties.

"The excitement, for me, is that it extends our pathway, which until the last couple of years has focused more on the under-19 age group.

"It's about adding another tier of competitive opportunity and another chance for our scouts to look at some of our best young talent in one place.

"I envisage a week of good, competitive opportunity which will also give the players some exposure to other, off-the-pitch aspects, that they are really going to need to buy into if they are going to progress up the pathway."

For those players who do catch the eye, they may then be invited to a winter training programme with the England Women's Development Under-19 Programme, a similar, yet more challenging environment to the under-15 set-up.

With the experience and knowledge gained from the summer competition, Connor believes the younger crop will be ready to make the next step.

She added: "Intense competition is at the heart of it, but it's actually about seeing those 36 players and how they respond to the whole week, how they apply themselves, what they absorb and how hard they want to push themselves. It's about the players showing their skills and showing why their counties have nominated them. It's to see what they are like as people as much as cricketers.

"For the really high potential players, when they leave the under-15 programme, they can step up quite comfortably into the next.

"That's why it's important to get the programmes running in the same way, so they know what to expect and what is required, what the culture is like, what the environment is like and what the expectations are."

The squad in full:

Emma Albery (Hertfordshire)
Eve Alder (Gloucestershire)
Maia Bouchier (Middlesex)
Ellen Burt (Sussex)
Kelly Castle (Essex)
Cassie Coombes (Somerset)
Courtney Coulson (Durham)
Rachel Dickinson (Lancashire)
Sophia Dunkley (Middlesex)
Sophie Ecclestone (Cheshire)
Athena Fernyhough (Durham)
Phoebe Franklin (Kent)
Katie George (Hampshire)
Anna Harris (Sussex)
Lily Helston (Devon)
Hannah Jones (Lancashire)
Hannah Jones (Surrey)
Jessie Jones (Devon)
Shona Keaney (Essex)
Emma Lamb (Lancashire)
Rebecca Newark (Yorkshire)
Anna Nicholls (Middlesex)
Tara Norris (Sussex)
Kennedy Nuttall (Yorkshire)
Shachi Pai (Lancashire)
Nalisha Patel (Lancashire)
Millie Pope (Middlesex)
Hannah Poulter (Yorkshire)
Karla Rose (Somerset)
Bryony Smith (Surrey)
Millie Squire (Devon)
Esther Stock (Leicestershire)
Olivia Stokes (Hampshire)
Eleanor Thelkeld (Lancashire)
Emily Thompson (Kent)
India Whitty (Middlesex)

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