EXPRESS & ECHO – FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2007
A STATE-of-the-art cricket centre at the University of Exeter will ensure the cream of Devon's young players will have every opportunity to hit the big time.
Funding for the £2m sports facility has been secured thanks to a £1.5m contribution from the England and Wales Cricket Board.
And the project, which will provide four indoor nets and a video analysis suite so players' techniques can be assessed, should be completed by autumn next year.
“The purpose of looking to get this centre was to have a dedicated cricket centre for cricket that all organisations could use in a cost effective way,” said Matt Theedom, Devon's cricket development manager and a former county player.
“It's going to be the highest specification possible, purpose-built for cricket with the flooring and nets we need. We'll have cameras linked up to monitors to analyse things and it will be the best kitted out cricket centre in the country outside of the national academy in Loughborough. It's a very exciting time.
“It will be 100 per cent for cricket and with better quality facilities we will be able to attract more people to use it.
“Hopefully the best cricketers in the county will be able to make use of the best facilities under one roof and take things forward.
“Devon has always been an excellent cricket county, from the senior team where we have an excellent record in Minor Counties all the way down to our under-10s and under-11s, who regularly beat First Class counties.
“It's tremendous that we will have this facility and it should mean we have a strong county for years to come.
“It's important for us to be able to stay ahead of the game and this centre will allow us to work more closely with players to achieve that.
“That's what we see as the main advantage of getting this centre — to make sure we stay ahead.”
The centre will be named after former Olympic athlete Christopher Ondaatje, who has donated £250,000 to project, which will cater for youngsters and talented players as well as clubs and Devon's teams as well as the university's cricket programme.
Sir Christopher, a governor of Blundell's School in Tiverton, was a member of the Canadian Olympic Bobsled team in 1964. He is a life member of Somerset County Cricket Club.
The £1.5m funding has come from the cricket board's club community development programme. Further grants have been offered by the Devon Cricket Board, MCC, Lords' Taverners, Devon County Cricket Club, the Tony Coles Trust and Exeter University.
Sir Christopher said: “I am delighted to support such an important development in Devon and at the university as cricket is of great interest to me and, as an honorary graduate of Exeter, I am pleased to have the opportunity to be involved.”
Jim Wood, chairman of the Devon Cricket Board, said: “The new centre will be used extensively to develop cricketing opportunities across the county for youngsters, adults, clubs and Devon's representative teams.
“This will assure Devon's reputation as the leading minor county, and act as a pathway for developing professional players of the future.”
Phil Attwell, director of sport at the university, added: “The strong partnership of the university, Devon Cricket Board and England and Wales Cricket Board has enabled the centre to become a reality after four years of planning.”
Exeter is one of the leading cricketing universities in the country. A number of test players are ex-students, including Paul Downton and Richard Ellison.