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What is the International Pathway?

ECB Performance Director David Parsons explains all...

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What is the International Pathway?

Sam Billings batting for England Lions

What is the International Pathway?

The route to the England men's team. Obviously this can take many forms, depending on each player's development.

First, there is the county game. We have 18 first-class counties, spread from Glamorgan in the west to Kent in the east, from Sussex in the south to Durham in the north, each with a Talent Programme, comprising an Emerging Players Programme for 13-16 year-olds and an Academy for 16-19 year-olds, in addition to their professional playing staff. Young players will take their first steps with a county, and will continue to receive the vast majority of their cricketing education and experience from their counties.

The ECB's role in the International Pathway is to offer unique experiences and the best possible support to players and their counties - specifically, in order to help players bridge the gap between domestic cricket and the international game. We've made a couple of small changes to the titles of the various programmes, in an effort to explain more simply what they offer - hopefully the reduction in the number of initials and acronyms will be a popular move.

Joe Root

Joe Root

The Young Lions

So we start with the Young Lions. This was formerly known as the England Development Programme, and introduces the most talented young players to international cricket through the England Under-19s.

This winter, the two main features of the Young Lions programme will be a three-week training camp in Dubai in December (including two one-day matches and one three-day match), and then an England Under-19 tour of India in January and February (including two four-day matches and three one-day matches against India Under-19s). Before they go to Dubai, they will hold two short camps in Loughborough. Andy Hurry is the head coach, and in Dubai he will be supported by many of the Lions coaches, including Andy Flower, Graham Thorpe, Peter Such, Chris Taylor and Bruce French, as well as the former Durham team-mates Neil Killeen and Paul Collingwood.

The Young Lions programme also includes the Regional Super-4s festival for the best Under-17 players in the country.

Young Lions (for training camps in Loughborough, Dubai, Nov/Dec): Max Holden (Middlesex), Harry Brook (Yorkshire), George Bartlett (Somerset), Josh Dell (Worcestershire), Tom Banton (Somerset), Ben Green (Somerset), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Delray Rawlins (Sussex), Amar Virdi (Surrey), Josh Coughlin (Durham), Will Jacks (Surrey), Euan Woods (Surrey), Liam Banks (Warwickshire), Aaron Beard (Essex), George Panayi (Warwickshire), Jack Blatherwick (Nottinghamshire), George Scrimshaw (Worcestershire).

Max Holden of Middlesex

Max Holden of Middlesex

The Lions

The Lions represents the final step on the International Pathway to the England team. The focus here is on preparing the most talented players in the county game for the different challenges of international cricket. The programme is led by Andy Flower, with the ECB's team of specialist coaches - Graham Thorpe, Kevin Shine, Peter Such, Chris Taylor and Bruce French - and science and medicine support. The Pathway also provides opportunities for recognising, utilising and developing expertise from the county game - Ian Fisher, Yorkshire's strength and conditioning coach, will be working with the Lions in Dubai for a second consecutive winter - and occasionally bringing in expertise from around the world.

This winter the Lions programme (previously known as the England Performance Programme) begins with a training camp at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough in November, also involving some work at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, before the squad depart for a three-week training camp based at the ICC Academy in Dubai - including three one-day games for England Lions against the UAE, followed by a three-day match against Afghanistan in Sharjah.

England Lions squads will then be picked in December for two four-day matches and five one-day matches against Sri Lanka A in February and March.

Lions (for training camps at Sandhurst, Loughborough, Dubai, Nov/Dec, including white-ball matches against UAE, three-day match against Afghanistan): Nick Gubbins (Middlesex), Keaton Jennings (Durham), Tom Alsop (Hampshire), Daniel Bell-Drummond (Kent), Tom Westley (Essex), Joe Clarke (Worcestershire), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Ollie Rayner (Middlesex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Sam Curran (Surrey), Tom Curran (Surrey), Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex), Jake Ball (Nottinghamshire), James Fuller (Middlesex), Craig Overton (Somerset), Stuart Meaker (Surrey).

England Lions fixtures: v UAE (50-over matches at ICC Academy in Dubai, on Dec 1, 3 and 5); v Afghanistan (3-day match in Sharjah, Dec 8-10).

"The ECB's role in the International Pathway is to offer unique experiences and the best possible support to players and their counties - specifically, in order to help players bridge the gap between domestic cricket and the international game."

David Parsons, ECB Performance Director

The Pace Programme

But there is more to the International Pathway than the Lions and the Young Lions. In recognition of the specific demands of fast bowling, five developing bowlers have been selected for the Pace Programme - previously the Potential England Performance Programme. They will work both at their counties and at Loughborough through the autumn, then travel to the High Performance Institute of Sport in Potchefstroom, South Africa for two weeks of warm-weather training in the New Year.

Five bowlers have been selected for the full programme this winter: George Garton of Sussex, Saqib Mahmood of Lancashire, Gloucestershire's Matthew Taylor, Durham's Paul Coughlin - whose younger brother Josh is in the Young Lions squad - and Tom Helm of Middlesex, who has also been invited to do some bowling at the Lions training camp in Dubai with two legspinners, Matt Parkinson of Lancashire and Josh Poysden of Warwickshire.

Kevin Shine, the ECB's lead fast-bowling coach, worked with the former England bowling coach Troy Cooley in establishing the PEPP a decade ago - with the aim of "reinforcing the physical and technical foundations required for international fast bowling".

Shine will also liaise closely through the autumn with Hampshire and Somerset as Reece Topley and Jamie Overton continue their rehabilitation programmes after injury, with the hope that they will also be able to boost their preparations for the 2017 season by joining the warm-weather training camp in South Africa.

Gloucestershire's Matt Taylor

Gloucestershire's Matt Taylor

Overseas Placements

The International Pathway is completed by the Overseas Placements. This winter, the ECB will invest in sending nine talented young players to the southern hemisphere.

Off-spinners Matthew Carter and Rob Sayer head to Wellington to work with Warwickshire's former New Zealand international Jeetan Patel; leg-spinners Mason Crane and Matt Critchley to play grade cricket in Sydney and work with the former Australia international Stuart MacGill; Dom Bess, Somerset's offspinning allrounder who was England's most consistent bowler in this summer's Under-19 series against Sri Lanka, to Adelaide; and four young batsmen - Tom Abell of Somerset, Glamorgan's Aneurin Donald, Dan Lawrence of Essex and Nottinghamshire's Tom Moores - to Perth, where they will play grade cricket and work closely with Neil "Noddy" Holder, the batting coach renowned for his work with Justin Langer among many others.

The placements have a slightly wider purpose - by exposing talented young players to an unsupported, unstructured cricket programme in a challenging overseas environment, the aim is to develop the skills and also independence required to be a successful international cricketer.

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