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Parsons clears England pathway

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ECB performance director David Parsons spoke to ECBtv about this winter's programme

The England Performance Programme may have been given a makeover, but David Parsons is keen to ensure the progression of players into the senior side continues apace.

The ECB today unveiled its new-look winter programme, with 41 players split into three categories according to their stage of development, all of whom are set for stints at a training camp in Pretoria.

Stephen Moore, Michael Carberry, Mark Davies and Amjad Khan, the four grade A players, will provide back-up to the senior squad in South Africa, while emerging talents Steven Finn, Chris Woakes and James Taylor are among the second tier deemed to be between 12 months and three years away from the England team.

A further 22 players with limited first-class experience are included in category C, the intention being to provide a clear route from under-19 cricket to the international arena.

“The purpose of the programme is to deliver to England team director Andy Flower and Geoff Miller, as national selector, players that are ready to perform at very high levels for England,” ECB performance director Parsons told ECBtv.

“We recognise specifically the stage of development that the player is at, and (will) deliver a programme with the player and for the player which is appropriate to their stage of developement and their requirements.”

Graham Onions & Joe Denly

Graham Onions and Joe Denly are two of the eight players on last winter's England Performance Programme who have taken the step up to the senior squad within the last year

The category A players can expect to be next in line should the England squad on tour in South Africa come calling, and will be hoping to follow a well-trodden path from the Performance Programme to the highest level.

While Amjad made his Test debut in the West Indies earlier this year, a further six members of last winter’s programme in India - Tim Bresnan, Steven Davies, Joe Denly, Eoin Morgan, Adil Rashid and Jonathan Trott - have represented England this year.

Former England seamer Liam Plunkett also travelled to India, and has been included in the South Africa touring party for 2009-10.

“It’s great to see those players being recognised,” added Parsons. “But our desired state is that one or perhaps two players each year leave the Performance Programme and go and make a difference to the England team.

“I’d much rather to think that in time there might be one or two each year because what we want is a settled England side.”

The category A players will benefit from an individually tailored training plan, and Parsons insists flexibility will be key to their success.

“It will be very much dependant on their own requirements,” he said. “We’ve sat down with the players and the county coaches, tried to identify the gaps between where they’re at at the moment, where they need to be in order to be performing at high levels for England, and how best to close that gap.

“For some that might mean going overseas and playing a high standard of cricket. For others they may have still chosen to come on the training camp in South Africa.

“Anything else goes, but it has to be well thought out and give them a real opportunity to move their game forward.”