Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals have launched a new London academy aimed at creating a new pathway for young players into both franchise and county cricket.
The academy is headed by former Worcestershire spinner and Warwickshire coach Shaftab Khalid, who is taking up a new role as their director of cricket alongside a coaching team with a raft of international experience.
Khalid also has experience coaching at the Birmingham-based South Asian Cricket Academy, which aims to support British South Asian cricketers into professional setups.
The Rajasthan Royals Academy London will offer a similarly inclusive approach with bursaries for those unable to fund their own coaching, and a system less reliant on the sort of systemic bias which has plagued English cricket in recent years.
Khalid said: “The county system has been fine but there’s lots of kids who’ve got the potential to be a county cricketer – we are providing the platform, the coaching and the experience.
“It is quite inaccessible because there are only so many people you can have in a county squad.
“If they aren’t selected, what’s their backup point?
“Are they working one-to-ones with someone or just a player here and there?
“We are giving them the platform which they need.”
It is the opportunity to play against, and showcase ability in front of, county academy and minor counties sides that Khalid sees as such a good opportunity.
The academy will play plenty of these sorts of fixtures and sees it as a way of distinguishing itself from other similar enterprises.
Khalid notes that due to a shortage in facilities, it is hard for a lot of people to find places to train, particularly across the winter.
He added: “We have that network set up in private schools and state schools that allows us to train every day.”
Full details and sign-up forms can be found here.
Featured image credit: Shaftab Khalid