A record 52 of England and Wales’ finest young cricketers were inducted into the professional game at the PCA’s 10th annual Rookie Camp event on Tuesday, on a day that highlighted the benefits of being a young professional.
Rookie Camp saw more players in attendance than ever before, surpassing the previous record total of 37 set last year, and the PCA has now helped over 300 players through their entry into professional cricket through the initiative, with 17 going on to represent England at international level.
The group, which included two players from the England Women’s Academy, attended workshops aimed at helping them to get to grips with the reality of life as a professional cricketer, including what the County Partnership Agreement, agreed last June, will mean to them.
Benefits of the agreement, which was negotiated between the PCA, ECB and all 18 first-class counties over an 18-month period, include an increased salary collar for young players, a binding minimum wage for all full-time professionals, the introduction of staged contracts for 18-21 year olds and increased accountability to the PCA from all counties regarding youth contracts in particular.
The new guidelines mean 2020 will be a game-changing year for youngsters in England and Wales, and there has never been a more rewarding time to get into professional cricket.
As in previous years, players attended a number of informative workshops with guest speakers including England stars Rory Burns and Saqib Mahmood, as well as Warwickshire sporting director Paul Farbrace.
Rookie Camp forms part of the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme, which aims to improve players’ performance on the pitch by minimising distractions off it, as well as helping them to better prepare for life after cricket.
The event, which was supported by the Professional Players Federation (PPF) as well as the Tom Maynard Trust for an eighth year in succession, brings together players who have recently signed their first contracts from across the 18 first-class counties and the women’s game.
England opening batsman and attendee of the inaugural Rookie Camp in 2011 Rory Burns said:
“Rookie Camp is a really positive event and it takes me back to when I attended the first ever one back in 2011. It’s been great to give the rookies some insight on my career so far and how I’ve got to where I am today.
"It's massively important for players to understand what the PCA has to offer, particularly for the younger lads and for the older ones as well."
Worcestershire opener and rising England U19 star Jack Haynes said:
“It’s important for young players to do this because you have to be self-aware and be careful not to get too caught up in the cricket bubble. A lot of us know each other and have played against one another so it’s great to get together and learn all this stuff in a group setting.”
25-year-old Leus du Plooy, who last year signed his first contract with Derbyshire having moved to the UK from South Africa, said:
“We’re just finding out what the PCA is all about and we’ve had some great insight into how the Association can help you. Every player has his or her own vulnerabilities so it’s great to know that there’s help out there for you if you need it.
“Good structures are put in place over here for people who need help or want to take their career further after cricket. Life after cricket is a reality that you need to face at some point in your career so it’s been really interesting to hear what the speakers have had to say.
Rookie contracted England Women batter Emma Lamb said:
“Female cricketers need to learn this information because a lot of it is new to us with the way that the game is growing. It’s crucial to get on top of it all early so that we don’t make mistakes further down the line.
“Hearing from Saqib in particular was great because we were on the Lancashire academy together and he’s come a very long way since then, so it was really interesting to hear what he had to say.”
The PCA’s Director of Development and Welfare Ian Thomas said:
“It’s been absolutely fantastic to see a record number of young cricketers here at our 10th Rookie Camp, and once again we are greatly appreciative of the support from the Professional Players Federation and the Tom Maynard Trust, who we have partnered with for eight years now.
“More important than the figures, though, is the information that this group of players has picked up from the likes of Rory Burns, Saqib Mahmood and Paul Farbrace today, as well as the key learnings which they will take home with them.
“There has never been a better time to be a young cricketer in England and Wales than right now, and I hope we have made that clear to the 52 players present, whilst also educating them on the potential pitfalls involved with a career in professional sport.”
Players in attendance: Michael Cohen, Leus du Plooy, Dustin Melton, Nils Priestley (all Derbyshire); Michael Jones (Durham); Feroze Khushi, Josh Rymall (both Essex); Dan Douthwaite, Jamie McIlroy, Prem Sisodiya, Roman Walker (all Glamorgan); Ben Charlesworth, Dominic Goodman, Ollie Price, Tom Price (all Gloucestershire); Scott Currie, Ajeet Dale, Tom Scriven (all Hampshire); Marcus O’Riordan (Kent); George Burrows, Tom Hartley, Jack Morley, Ed Moulton, Owais Shah (all Lancashire); Nathan Bowley, Alex Evans (both Leicestershire); Joe Cracknell, Luke Hollman, Thilan Walallawita (all Middlesex); Emilio Gay, Jack White (both Northamptonshire); Jack Blatherwick, Sol Budinger, Joe Evison, Lyndon James (all Nottinghamshire); Kasey Aldridge, Lewis Goldsworthy, Sam Young (all Somerset); Nick Kimber, Dan Moriarty (both Surrey); Tom Clark, Will Sheffield (both Sussex); Ethan Brookes, Dan Mousley (both Warwickshire); Jack Haynes, Mitchell Stanley (both Worcestershire); George Hill, Dom Leech, Josh Sullivan, James Wharton (all Yorkshire); Kirstie Gordon, Emma Lamb, (both England Women’s Academy).