Somerset Cricket Club's initiative to increase the amount of coaching available to Pathway players who attend state schools has been hailed a great success.

Matt Drakeley, the head of talent Pathway at Somerset Cricket Club, has been deeply involved in setting up and implementing the scheme since its introduction last year.

He is a former player of the club's First XI and has praised the success of the project.

Mr Drakeley said: "The initiative has been really successful.

"We have just come to the end of the winter programme element which has seen us deliver more than 200 hours of coaching to around 200 state school players within our Pathway and beyond."

He added: "State School Lead Coach, Thom Bunker has led the project brilliantly and he’s got a good group of young coaches working with him.

"He’s done such a brilliant job of delivering those sessions and implementing the initiative and he deserves a lot of credit."

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The partnership Somerset CCC has established with Weston College has also been beneficial, investing money into their facility and making it the official home of the initiative.

The feedback from players and parents has been highly positive in terms of the opportunities and experiences the initiative has provided.

The summer programme of the project started recently, offering comprehensive training and match-play at facilities offered by Huntspill Cricket Club and Uphill Castle Cricket Club.

Mr Drakeley added: "There is also a fixture programme consisting of almost 40 matches against schools, local cricket clubs and other teams who offer similar programmes for state school players from around the UK.

"One of the most pleasing things is that the project has sparked a real interest from some external partners who want to explore how we can extend the offer.

He continued: "We’ve also had some positive conversations with the MCC Foundation about expanding the offer so that even more state school players in Somerset can get the opportunity to join programmes like this in the future".

He believes the cricket program can change the perception that private schools are the only pathway to cricket and can give state school players the opportunity to reach their potential.

Finally, Mr Drakeley emphasised that the success of the programme goes beyond having players from the programme eventually play for Somerset.

He said: "I think it’s wider than that.

"We are creating more opportunity for players to be excited and inspired."

He sees this as a chance to provide a real connection to cricket for young Somerset state school players and inspire them to remain engaged in the game.