The Yorkshire County Cricket Club is delighted to announce this year’s 16-strong Academy and Emerging Players’ Programme intake.

Academy head coach James Lowe has led the selection of eight players across each group, saying: “I think they are really exciting groups.

“We feel like we have most of the bases covered in terms of skills, and we also have a nice mix of ages.

“We have three Under 18s and then a nice mix between 17s and 16s.

“We’re strong with the bat, and we’re well stocked with exciting pace bowlers. We also have some very talented wicketkeepers and spinners.”

Yorkshire’s Academy 2023: Will Bennison, Alex Cree, Josh Hoyle, Noah Kelly, Isaac Light, Charlie McMurran, Harvey Round and Alex Wade.

Yorkshire’s Emerging Players’ Programme 2023: Jawad Akhtar, Ed Burch, Noah Chapman, Josh Hen-Boisen, Louie Owens, Jack Redshaw, Owen Smith and Joe Thompson.

“When you come around to selection, it’s a very difficult process,” continued Lowe, who is embarking on his second year in charge.

“We speak a lot with all the age-group coaches and watch them a lot.

“A club like Yorkshire, it’s particularly difficult because there are so many good players.

“There are a number who were on the borderline of getting in but didn’t, and we will keep track of them.

“But this group of 16, there’s a lot of ability in there. They were with us for five or six weeks before Christmas, and they were very impressive.

“We’re really excited to see how we progress.”

Batter Noah Kelly is the only player from last year’s Academy to be retained for this, the youngster helping Driffield Town to win the 2022 Yorkshire Premier League North title.

He also hit an unbeaten double century in a Yorkshire Under 18s game.

The players across the two groups will work closely together and will play a mixture of Academy friendlies and Under 18s competitive fixtures, both in three-day and 50-over cricket.

At the weekend, they will return to play league cricket for their home clubs, as – for example – Kelly did last year with significant success.

Lowe has already referenced those players who missed out on selection, and has urged them to keep working hard and performing in league cricket.

Fin Bean is someone who has proved that theory correct, the left-handed opener who left the club at the end of 2020 before returning last summer to star in the second team, earn a rookie contract and make his first-team debut.

Other examples include new Academy inductees Alex Cree and Isaac Light.

“Alex, from Methley, he played in all of the Under 18s games,” said Lowe. “He wasn’t on the Academy, but he impressed us early season and progressed well.

“He was one of our top run-scorers and also had an outstanding season for his club side. I think he got about 900 (904) league runs.

“Isaac is a wicketkeeper-batter from Harrogate.

“He wasn’t in the system at the start of last season, but he did well in club cricket and we invited him in.

“He joined on an EPP, and he was outstanding for the Under 18s.

“He was a bit of a wildcard really, but he then got himself on the Super Fours with the ECB. We’ve now signed him on full Academy terms.”

Lowe added: “I’ve had a chat with quite a few people since the Academy and EPP group got together in November.

“There are lads there who are disappointed having thought they might get in. But my message to them was, ‘You were close, you have a lot to offer, the door is certainly not closed’.

“If those players perform in league cricket, there will definitely be opportunities to come in and practice and play in the Under 18s.

“We’ll continue to provide opportunities like we did for Alex and Isaac.”

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