Exclusive: Hampshire aid Australia in bid for Ashes rule

County will provide finishing school for rivals' next generation at summer academy

Hampshire have announced a ground-breaking deal with Cricket Australia under which the county will act as a finishing school for the country's best young players.

Starting next season, Australia's brightest young Under-19 talent will spend the summer with Hampshire while also playing for clubs in the Southern Electric Premier League.

In an exclusive interview with Independent Sport, the Hampshire chairman, Rod Bransgrove, said the new agreement would mean the county helping to develop Australia's next generation of talent and revealed that talks were under way with other countries, including India and Sri Lanka, to put similar arrangements in place.

The move will effectively establish Hampshire as a global academy during the summer months, when most countries are in their off-season.

Although the players will not turn out for Hampshire's Academy or Second XI, the county will take on responsibility for areas such as strength, conditioning and skill development while also monitoring players' performances for clubs in the county's top league.

"For many years we've all got quite used to sending our players off to Australia, South Africa and India," Bransgrove said, "so it makes sense to speak to national governing bodies about bringing their best young players to England and for us to assist in their development.

"The qualification is that these players must have at least played for Australia at Under-19 level," he added. "We would use roughly the same parameter for Sri Lankans or Indians, or other countries we're talking to at the moment.

"Whilst they're high-performance or high-potential players they may be a step or two away from being a first-choice overseas county player. From a Cricket Australia point of view they're looking to send cricketers that can then move relatively seamlessly into their Australia A side."

At a time when England have finally got the upper hand against their oldest rivals, there will doubtless be some who view the move as a way of handing the advantage back to Australia. But Bransgrove believes the county is merely fulfilling the role that countless club sides Down Under have carried out in the past.

"I remember stories from people like Robin Smith and Alec Stewart about how they completed their development playing club cricket in Western Australia," he said. "We've sent our young players out to the [Darren] Lehmann Academy and Paul Terry Academy in Australia in the past.

"For many, many years the Aussies have been helping us and at the end of the day it's a pretty myopic view that, wherever the sun shines in the world, people should be stopped from playing there just because of their nationality.

"If our young players were stopped from playing cricket in Australia it would be a catastrophe so I really don't see a problem with it. We're really just providing a part of the overall development programme for young cricketers," he added. "I see it as a part of our overall responsibility as a cricket club."

Certainly, clubs in the county's Premier League are set to benefit. Next week they will be invited to put forward their case for taking one of the first intake of scholars this summer, all six of whom will be funded by Cricket Australia through the Kerry Packer Foundation. How the players are allocated is still up for discussion, but one idea is to use the model of the US draft system.

"For those clubs who traditionally appoint an overseas or a professional player over the summer, they will be taking one of these scholarship players and playing them throughout their competitive season," said Bransgrove. "One of the things we won't be able to do is to provide prescriptive players to clubs who want a particular kind of player. There will be an element of randomisation about it."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea