Indian dream becomes reality for European hopefuls

Wed, Feb 27, 2008 12:28 PM

Fourteen of Europe's finest young cricketing talents will realise their dreams this week as the ICC European Academy gets underway in India.

This is the first time that the annual academy has taken place outside of Europe as it relocates to the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai.

The participants, all aged between 18 and 22, come from six of Europe's 27 ICC Associate and Affiliate member countries – Gibraltar, Guernsey, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands and Scotland – and for the majority it will be their first experience of cricket on the sub-continent.

The squad of fourteen is taking part in an intense 5-day coaching and skills programme followed by a string of fixtures against select sides from the Cricket Club of India (CCI), the Global Cricket School and the Mumbai State U19's. The first fixture takes place against a CCI Select XI on the 27th February at the CCI. On the 1st March the team will play a fixture against the Mumbai CA State U19 side at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai's test venue.

Accompanying the young players is a highly qualified ICC Europe coaching team including ECB's Head of Elite Coach Development Gordon Lord, Ireland's 2007 World Cup coach and recently appointed coaching consultant to Scotland's national side Adrian Birrell, and Gloucestershire CCC Assistant Coach Stuart Barnes.

Academy Manager, ICC European Development Officer – Performance, Philip Hudson, who is leading the coaching team, spoke after the first day in Mumbai:

"As expected, the first full day at the CCI has been tough, with the boys having to adjust to very different conditions to those they experience in their home countries. We decided to move this year's academy to India for exactly that reason - to further develop the player's skills in a tough environment that will test all involved" said Hudson

He added "We are already beginning to see how the boys are absorbing and benefiting from the wealth of advice on offer to them over here. This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for these lads to take the next step in their cricketing careers and we hope that they will make the most of it."

Among the group is twenty-year-old spinner Solomon Varsulkar who is the first Israeli to be selected to take part in an ICC academy. He was selected for the event after producing phenomenal bowling performances for his country, including overall figures of 15-120 and 11-60 at the 2005 and 2007 ICC European U/19 Championships.

Before embarking on the trip, Solomon commented on what he hoped to gain from the opportunity: "I know that there is still so much I need to learn about spin bowling and where better to learn than in India? Having lived in Israel since I was a small child it would be a dream to go back to my roots and play on famous grounds in Mumbai."

The academy has been funded by the ICC European Development Program with an additional place being made available thanks to the support of the Global Cricket School.

The ICC European Academy Squad 2008:

Kieron Ferrary Gibraltar

Blane Queripel Guernsey

Kris Moherndl Guernsey

Gary Kidd Ireland

Fintan McAllister Ireland

Andrew Poynter Ireland

Gary Wilson Ireland

Solomon Varsulkar Israel

Bob Entrop Netherlands

Timothy Gruijters Netherlands

Maurits Jonkman Netherlands

Richard Berrington Scotland

Andrew Hislop Scotland

Scott Redhead Scotland

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