Academy progress clear to Shaw
Paul Shaw, ECB high performance manager for women’s and girls’ cricket, is encouraged that the responsibility entrusted to members of the England Women’s Academy is easing their transition to full international honours.
The Academy gives young cricketers between the age of 16 and 23 the chance to attend six winter camps at the ECB’s National Criket Performance Centre in Loughborough, coupled with strenuous overseas trips to Test-playing nations.
Their work seems to be bearing fruit - in the last 18 months seven of the Academy intake have gone on to represent Charlotte Edwards’ England side, and Shaw hopes for a further four to follow very soon.
“Our aim is to identify high-potential cricketers and to make their progress to the England team easier,” he said.
“Over the last two years, by developing the players the way we do, the transition is getting easier. We find that players who’ve made the step up are performing much earlier than they used to.
“In terms of women’s sport, we feel the Academy is leading the way in a lot of areas. We’re very keen on challenging ourselves and seeing how we can all improve.”
Every summer, the Academy play against the England senior side and their NatWest Series opponents (this summer it was New Zealand) to give them a real challenge.
In March, the girls were asked to tackle the inhospitable playing conditions of India, where they encountered temperatures close to 40C.
“We replicate the situations players face at international level,” explains Shaw, a former Barnsley and Hull league cricketer.
“We have tests, we go on tour and trim a big squad down to a small one. Our philosophy at the Academy is ‘people first’.
“We believe in developing the person as well as the cricketer. A lot of cricket skills are actually generic such as making decisions under pressure. We also work on developing players’ self-awareness. We want independent, thinking cricketers.
“We then apply these on the field. We put players under as much pressure as we can, targeting a certain amount of runs off a certain amount of balls against difficult fields.
“It’s about developing mental toughness. If a skill breaks down under pressure, we can go back and work on it.”