EPP in full swing
The England Performance Programme is the new name for what was the National Academy, with the main aim being to provide support for the senior England squad.
The nomenclature came out of the Schofield report, when it was decided to get away from the idea of an academy which is for very young players.
With the amount of cricket England are now playing, it is essential to have an acclimatised, technically ready to go squad of players as back-up. It is no longer a set of young guns who may make it to senior county cricket and maybe into the England team in four to five years. The players on the programme this year are the next cabs off the rank, ready to go if called.
Guy Jackson, National Cricket Performance Centre manager, is leading the England Performance Programme this year and told ecb.co.uk: “I was talking to the guys on the first day, when they came in for induction, and we were counting up their cohorts who were sitting in their seats this time last year. Eight of them went on to play for England during the year - Joyce, Dalrymple, Lewis, Tremlett, Broad, Bopara, Prior and Shah.
“While last year was probably atypical with the amount of cricket played and the amount of injuries we had, these guys may very well be playing before the year is out.”
The new set-up of the former academy is much more tailored to individual needs, with a specific aim in mind.
“The programme is about creating players who are capable of winning matches for England,” Jackson added.
“It is there to support the England side, whether that is to have players available to bowl at them or players that are fit and acclimatised and ready to slot into the squad.
“They will use the same training methods and have the same level of practice, and as much as we can, we will be using the same coaches and having the same ideas. That is the philosophy of the place.”
This year’s recruits had an extended rest period between the end of the domestic season and starting on the programme, and then spent two and half weeks at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough raising their fitness levels.
“Technically, physically and mentally it is about preparing them to be ready to go and play cricket again,” Jackson explained.
“We go to India on November 17 to a high performance camp, in the same way that we went to Australia last year when the Ashes were on. We will have a set of players who are ready.
“After four or five days they will be acclimatised and will be playing on the sorts of surfaces they could expect in the subcontinent.
“It is really to continue their personal development. What we are doing is improving them as people and as players through this programme. If any of them do get the call to join England, then they will be ready to go.”
The squad will be based in Mohali, in the cooler Northern part of India, for ten days as they continue their personal development and begin to acclimatise. They then move onto the hotter climes of Chennai where there will be a more intense playing programme. They are due to compete in two four-day matches before Christmas.
After Christmas they were due to be playing as England Lions in a triangular tournament with West Indies A and Pakistan A, but that has fallen through, which may result in them playing in India’s equivalent of county cricket.
“The squad is picked on roughly a cross-section of all disciplines, but it is not picked as a team,” Jackson admitted.
“If we are going to play in the India domestic competitions we will take this nucleus, but we might have to embellish it with two extra seam bowlers etc, just to make it more of a squad.
“But that is for after Christmas. At the moment we are just focusing on pre-Christmas in Chennai and Mohali.”