The Northern Diamonds are delighted to announce their Academy and Emerging Players Programme intake for 2024, totalling 39 players across both groups.
The 15-player Academy squad is made up of 12 players retained from last year and three who have progressed up through the regional and county age-group system.
Yorkshire duo Amelia Oliver and Lucy Randle-Bissell have moved up from the EPP, while Freya Rook has been elevated from Northumberland’s CAG.
“The three new players all bring something different to the squad,” said Tom Cant, the Diamonds senior regional talent manager and Academy head coach.
“Amelia is a top order batter who scored 52 versus a strong South East Stars side on her debut last year. Schooled at Sedbergh, she has had a fantastic coach in Martin Speight.
“Lucy – still only 15 – is one of if not the quickest bowlers on the Diamonds programme, and Freya is a left-arm spinner, which is a skill every team looks for.
“Amelia and Lucy have been in and around the Academy programme throughout the 2023 season, and on the back of a fantastic 2023 with North East Warriors U18s we welcome Freya to the group.
“With the ability across all 15 players, we look forward to watching them grow as a team across the next 10/11 months.
“The challenge and opportunity is there for the girls to back up their performances last season and push for more second-team opportunities and longer-term senior opportunities.”
The full Diamonds Academy squad is as follows: Mary Butler, Trudy Johnson (both Durham), Lucy Lindley, Frances Lonsdale (both Yorkshire), Olivia Miller (Northumberland), Ellie Nightingale, Amelia Oliver, Elicia Pollard, Lucy Randle-Bissell (all Yorkshire), Harriet Robson, Freya Rook (both Northumberland), Beth Slater, Erin Thomas (both Yorkshire), Grace Thompson (Durham), Emily Whiting (Northumberland).
Cant continued: “On the back of a promising 2023 season, it has been great to return to training and kick off the 2024 programme.
“I’d like to thank the three players who left the programme either during or at the end of the season.
“Ellie Tiffin, Ciara Boaden and Layla Tipton all played their part on and off the field, and their contributions will be remembered.
“It is never easy to see a player leave the programme, but we wish them well in everything that they do in the future. We hope they look back on their time within the Diamonds family with fondness.
“It’s an exciting year ahead, with players at various stages of their journey, not just cricket but education or work to balance around their cricket commitments.
“The opportunities keep growing within the game, but the depth is also increasing.
“This year’s selection across Academy and EPP certainly felt tougher.
“There are several different formats now at Academy level for the girls to test themselves at – Hundred, T20, 50-overs and multi-day cricket – and opportunities beyond the Academy such as School Games and England Under 19s.
“Outside of the Academy programme, it’s been great to welcome Mark Harrison as the new regional talent manager, and the Emerging Players Programme allows us to work with more players – some players looking to push into the Academy and some just starting their journey with us.
“Throughout 2023, we saw several changes off the field – incomings and outgoings – and we are working through a number of changes in our Talent ID, scouting and observation processes as well as our work with all three counties in the region.”
The EPP programme, headed up by Harrison, is made up of 24 names.
“We have 14 returning players and 10 new players joining the programme, which illustrates the depth we have in the region,” said Harrison.
“The ability within the returning and new players means there are exciting times ahead.
“As the depth grows, it does mean we have had some tough selection calls.
“Seven players have left the programme, and we thank them for all their efforts in the first year of the programme and will continue to monitor their progress through the 2024 season.”
The EPP squad for 2024 is as follows, with asterisks to indicate new players: Alice Acklam*, Ines Blackwell* (both Yorkshire), Ava Broady* (Northumberland), Maiya Charlesworth* (Yorkshire), Jess Clarke, Mae Deaville, Grace Denley* (all Durham), Clare Fairclough, Izzy Fidler, Georgie Flack* (all Yorkshire), Amy Hurst, Ella Jackson* (both Durham), Olivia Kibler, Florrie McKenna* (both Yorkshire), Kate Million* (Durham), Ellis Rawlin, Emily Roberts, Rhia Sedha (all Yorkshire), Naomi Silva (Northumberland), Lily-Mai Taylor, Laura Trotter (both Durham), Sarah Vince (Northumberland), Sarah Wood, Emma Wrightson* (both Yorkshire).
“The purpose of the EPP is to bridge the gap between CAG and the Academy programme and give the players a flavour of what is available within the Academy,” said Harrison.
“The EPP is the beginning of the players’ journey with the Northern Diamonds.
“All players will receive an individual cricket training programme as well as strength and conditioning, sports psychology and nutrition support.”
Harrison added: “On a personal note, having now fully transitioned to the Northern Diamonds at the end of the 2023 season, I am incredibly excited and proud to be leading this programme.”
And overall, Cant added: “The 2024 programme started on October 29 with an induction day at Leeds Beckett for all players and parents across both programmes.
“The players have spent time this week with our strength and conditioning coaches, physios, sport psychologist and nutritionist as we increase our support networks for the players.
“We’ll slowly begin to ramp up the cricket over the coming months.
“It’s a long winter, and we want to keep training fresh and the intensity high.”