It was double delight for Northern Diamonds new Academy recruit Maddie Ward today as she helped an England National Counties XI win the European Championship T10 title in Malaga as well as being called up to an England Under 19s training squad.

Wicketkeeper-batter Ward has signed for the Diamonds following a successful trial period, the 18-year-old moving from the Blaze.

England, a team put together by the National Counties Cricket Association,  beat the Netherlands in this afternoon’s 10-overs per side final by 17 runs defending a total of 122-5. 

Early this morning, Ward was named by the ECB as one of three Diamonds in an Under 19s preparation group ahead of a tour to Sri Lanka in March and April.

Maddie Ward

Picture by Barrington Coombs – ECB/ECB via Getty Images. Maddie Ward on England Under 19s duty in January.

Fellow Diamonds Trudy Johnson and Erin Thomas have also been selected in a group which will commence a series of training camps at Loughborough in January before a reduced tour squad is announced at a later date.

Tom Cant, the senior regional talent manager for the Diamonds, said: “Maddie has joined the Academy after a successful trial period, which we are delighted about.

“She was one of the two wicketkeepers for England at the Under 19s World Cup in South Africa at the start of the year, which Emma Marlow and Lizzie Scott also played in.

“And we are thrilled for her that she has been able to play her part in a different environment this week.

“Helping the England XI win a trophy will have been a great learning experience for Maddie and all the players.

“It’s also deserved recognition for Trudy and Erin. 

“Both had fantastic summers for us, and it is reward for all their efforts. 

“Erin, in her first year on the Academy, had a stand out year with the bat. Trudy, who has been on the programme since 2021, is still under 17 but really stepped up last year with both bat and ball.”

In terms of the European Championship competition played at the Cartama Oval, five teams were involved; England, Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Austria.

Nottingham-born Ward has done everything this week – bat, keep and even bowl some off-spin. 

She took the gloves in this afternoon’s final and claimed two stumpings in an over. On the live stream coverage of the final, she was described as “outstanding” by the commentary team. 

Her success brings to a close what has been a very productive first half of the winter for the Diamonds Academy and Emerging Players Programme group, which now totals 40 following Ward’s arrival.

The excitement is now building for next summer, especially with the new fixtures having just been announced. The first Academy fixture is a 50-over game away at the Central Sparks on April 28.

Tom Cant

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. Tom Cant.

Cant said: “Phase One of our winter training programme has gone well but also really quickly.

“It doesn’t feel like two minutes since we were launching this year’s programme at our induction day at Leeds Beckett at the start of November.

“All 40 players across the Academy & EPP have had individual strength and conditioning plans designed for them by our two S&C coaches, Ben Brown and David Johnson.

“They’ve also participated in sports psychology and nutrition workshops alongside their individual and group cricket sessions.

“The returning players have helped to integrate the new players across both programmes into the Diamonds family, and both groups have gelled well.

“With the Academy players, we have broken phase one into two parts, with the bat, a seam block and a spin block.

“This has allowed all the players to identify areas of strength and areas to work on ahead of phase two. The bowlers have been working on their drills and began to build up their overs in the second half of phase one.

“The EPP players have focused on seam for the whole of phase one and will start their spin block post-Christmas.

“Mark Harrison has added great value to the programme alongside our other coaches, and it’s been great to have senior player Phoebe Turner doing some coaching with the players as well.

“The release of the senior fixtures and then the Academy fixtures always gives the feel that the season will soon be here.

“After last year’s two-day game was washed out, we are looking forward to some longer format cricket. with a 3-day game away at Sunrisers also added to the programme at the end of July. This will give the girls the opportunity to play longer format cricket alongside T20 and 50 overs that they are used to playing.

“Oakham School will also host the Festival in August this year, which is closer for us than Millfield!

“Alongside the ECB fixtures, we will be adding in several extra games to supplement a slightly bigger squad this year.

“Thirteen of the 14 players in last year’s squad played second-team cricket. Like the Academy, we are looking to add more second-team cricket in for 2024.

“With the seniors playing more T20 cricket, it promises to be a busy but exciting season.”

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