Cricket: pounds 2.38m boost for English cricket

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The Independent Online
England's international future yesterday received a pounds 2.38m boost. A scheme designed to produce quality Test players for coming years was unveiled at Lord's by the Cricket Foundation, and its ideal is to set up 38 centres of excellence, one for each of the new County Boards.

"It is an important first brick in the structure of the English Cricket Board which will be up and running on 1 October," said Ossie Wheatley, the chairman of the Cricket Foundation.

A major objective of Wheatley's is for the 17-year-old finished products to emerge from the centres as good as those who graduate from the highly- successful Australian Academy.

A cash injection of pounds 2.2m from the Test and County Cricket Board plus a guarantee of pounds 1.9m over the next three years has handsomely backed a development project which will cost pounds 2.38m overall.

The first centre of excellence for young hopefuls in the Under-12 to Under-17 age group is to be set up at Durham University, which has produced 30 county players.

Wheatley added: "The long-promised restructuring of cricket in England and Wales is underway. Every county in the country - 38 County Boards - will benefit from this investment. The emphasis is on developing better quality young cricketers, particularly 11-16-year-olds."

All 38 County Boards have received grants, six amounting to six figures, plus pounds 135,000 to Durham University in three annual awards of pounds 45,000.

n The Test and County Cricket Board's disciplinary hearing into the positive drug test by the Sussex bowler Ed Giddins was suspended after four and a half hours at Lord's yesterday, and will resume today. The 25-year-old, who toured Pakistan with England A last winter, tested positive for an illegal substance after a championship match against Kent at Tunbridge Wells in May. A second test produced the same result.