Thursday, December 27, 2012
BICTON College are about to take the wraps off a proposed new international cricket academy thought to be the first of its kind in this country.
Bicton – a further education and farming college near East Budleigh – already runs a successful military academy and has close rugby links with Exeter Chiefs.
Although the Chiefs are part of the England Academy network and tap into the talent pools at Truro and Ivybridge colleges, there is a tie-up with Bicton as well.
Scholars have training sessions with Chiefs coaches as part of their timetable in what the rugby club describe as a ‘partnership’.
The Chiefs got involved in the partnership to ensure they did not miss out on any talent in their own backyard.
Cricket has been relatively low profile at the college in the past, although Exeter and Sidmouth both use the college ground for 3rd XI matches.
The syllabus about to be unveiled by the college is for a two-year course in sports studies leading to a BTEC level-three qualification.
Similar courses in rugby, golf and soccer are already being run at other colleges in Devon, such as South Devon College in Paignton.
Rudimentary cricket facilities at Bicton comprising a pavilion on the ground and not a lot else, will be completely overhauled.
The academy blueprint includes a new sports hall for use as a cricket centre and a high-quality pitch to play on.
The sports hall is being built as part of a Devon County Council project to move Mill Water School for children with special needs from Honiton to Bicton. Work should start in the Spring.
The academy will be open to foreign students and utilise coaching expertise from former players from all over the world, hence the ‘international’ element to the name.
Joel Murphy, the Australian-born captain of Budleigh Salterton and Devon CCC Academy coach, has been recruited as head coach of the new operation.
Murphy said he was excited about being in at the start the first centre of its type in this country.
“It is an international academy which happens to be in Devon and open to anyone who wants to apply,” said Murphy.
“As far as anyone is aware there is nothing like it anywhere else in the country.
“Bicton has residential facilities which makes the course accessible to anyone from anywhere in the world.
“A number of countries have been identified as potential sources of students and I anticipate a great deal of interest.
“It is hoped we can offer a scholarship to a potential student from India, Pakistan or any other country where finding the funding could be a problem.
“We are not trying to churn out First Class cricketers of the future, but to prepare students for possible careers in sport. Enthusiasm is as important as ability.”
Murphy said a sponsorship deal with kit supplier BoomBoom will give students access to specialist coaching expertise.
“BoomBoom have several ambassadors in this country – Jade Dernbach, Hamish Marshall and Ricardo Gordon – and part of their role is coaching,” said Murphy.
“Kabir Ali (Lancashire and England) has been involved in setting up the academy and will be taking coaching sessions from time to time.”
Ali will be one of the speakers at the official launch of the academy on the college campus on January 19. The course starts in September 2013.