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National Cricket Academy now in operation at Loughborough University

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The 2003-4 intake of the National Academy squad have begun training at the England and Wales Cricket Board's new National Cricket Academy at Loughborough University - cricket's first national training and rehabilitation centre.

The National Academy facility incorporates four basic elements: the indoor cricket centre, which is the largest and best equipped of its kind in the world, outdoor nets and pitches, residential accommodation, and access to the new English Institute of Sport (EIS) science and medicine support facilities.

The centre becomes a base, not only for the National Academy players, but also for the training and medical needs of all the England senior and age-group teams, both men and women, as well as coach education and the development of science and medicine within the sport.

The £4.5m capital costs for the project, a joint venture between the ECB, Sport England and Loughborough University, with generous support from the Allan and Nesta Ferguson Trust, covered the build of the new cricket centre and the development of Loughborough's outdoor net facilities.

In addition, the ECB has signed an exclusive 'user agreement' and 'residential agreement', which confirm the ECB's use of the site for the next 20 years, with Loughborough University and with the EIS.

It will cost the ECB approximately £350,000 per annum for the use of the site i.e. the indoor cricket centre, including the offices therein, the EIS' sports science and medical support facilities and the residential properties. This sum of money will be covered via the Sport England lottery fund.

Building on the facility began in October 2002 and the intake of National Academy players for the 2003-4 programme started their programme on Monday 13 October 2003.

Hugh Morris, ECB Performance Director, who has been responsible for the project, said, "We chose Loughborough University because of the breadth of training, medical and sports science facilities, which are not only world class but gathered together on one site as part of the English Institute of Sport network.

“Our cricketers will also be able to mix with many of the country's best athletes from a range of other sports which can only be beneficial for them.

"Our new facility will be more than just a centre for our National Academy squad. It will be a national centre for the whole family of cricket, a place of our own where the very best male and female players can be developed and looked after to give them the best chance of achieving excellence at the highest level.

“It will be a huge boost to cricket in England and Wales.

"My thanks go to Loughborough University, Sport England, the English Institute of Sport, the Allan and Nesta Ferguson Trust and our sponsors Vodafone, and all those who have helped us get to this stage. They can all rightly feel very proud of their achievement."

The indoor cricket centre

The cricket centre at Loughborough is the largest bespoke indoor cricket centre in the world. Measuring approx 70m by 25m, there are six lanes and the hall is long enough to accommodate a fast bowler off a full run-up bowling to a wicket-keeper standing back.

The Hawkeye tracking system has been installed as a coaching aid in all lanes.

Outside the sports hall area, but in the same building, a variety of ancillary services are accommodated on three floors.

There is a large fitness and conditioning centre, changing rooms with a recovery area including hot and cold spa baths, and two changing rooms specifically to service the outdoor cricket pitches.

The facility also offers office accommodation for the National Academy staff, who are now based permanently at Loughborough.

A 'performance analysis' suite, which includes an editing suite, will be available to analyse data from the Hawkeye system; it also houses a comprehensive video library of the world's best teams and players. In addition there are seminar rooms, a bar and a viewing balcony.

Outdoor facilities

The cricket centre overlooks Loughborough University's main cricket square, and the ECB will have access to this and one other high-quality cricket pitch for up to 45 days a year.

In addition, a bank of up to 18 grass nets are being developed, for which the ECB will have exclusive access.

A dedicated cricket groundsman will work solely on the cricket facilities with existing Loughborough groundstaff.

Residential facilities

The ECB will have exclusive access to two houses, situated a short walk from the cricket centre and refurbished to three star standard, to provide on-site accommodation as required.

There will be nine bedrooms in each house, as well as kitchen and laundry facilities.

Use of National Academy centre

Priority for the use of facilities will be given to the National Academy, for which the ECB can pick up to 16 players for the annual six-month winter programme.

Apart from a 5-6 week tour, the squad will spend the majority of its time at Loughborough.

The National Academy facility, however, will be much more than just a training centre for the National Academy squad. It will provide an all-year-round facility to benefit cricket as a whole:

  • Age group squads*: The England U19, U17 and U15 squads currently train together at Lilleshall, Trent Bridge and Old Trafford but in future they will meet at Loughborough instead.

England Women's squads (senior and junior): likewise they will move their training base to the National Academy.

England's squads for players with disabilities: they will also have access to the centre.

  • Coaching*: Staff coach training for Levels One, Two and Three of the ECB Coach Education programme will be undertaken at Loughborough. Level Three and Level Four of the ECB Coach Education programme will also be delivered at Loughborough.

County Coach conferences will take place at the new facility, as will seminars for cricket's sport science and medical groups.

Terry Jenner will use the facility for the ECB Wrist Spin development programme, and it will also enable the ECB to better organise training camps for cricket specialists such as young fast bowlers.

The National Academy will be used as a rehabilitation centre for injured players, from England players to potentially county players and the best up-and-coming youngsters.

Loughborough UCCE will also use the facilities.

Her Majesty The Queen will conduct the official opening of the National Academy on Friday 14 November.

Loughborough University - A base for sporting excellence Loughborough University currently provides a training base for around 250 high-performance athletes, helping them to reach and excel at the highest levels of their chosen sport as well as continuing their education.

Housing the National Academy at Loughborough therefore allows the best young cricketers to interact with other top-level sportsmen and coaches to help them develop their sporting potential.

Loughborough University also has an excellent track record in applied sports science and medicine; the ECB will have access to the new EIS Sports Science and Medicine facility, which will be completed by autumn 2003.

In addition, the ECB will have access to Loughborough's new £7m EIS athletics indoor training venue and the new Olympic-size swimming pool.