QC Academy Launched

Queensland Cricket has unveiled a new-look Elite Cricket structure that will underpin its State teams and deliver stronger links with Premier Cricket.

A Queensland Cricket Academy has been introduced for 2024-25, with an emphasis on providing specialist coaching to players identified as being in contention for future selection at Toyota 2nd XI, Marsh Sheffield Shield, Marsh One Day Cup, women’s T20 and KFC Big Bash League level.

The 12 players selected in the initial male squad intake come from outside the 2024-25 Queensland Bulls contracted player squad and include Brisbane Heat allrounder Jack Wood, Australian Under-19 World Cup batter Tom Campbell, his Wests teammate Steve McGiffin and Valley wicket-keeper Dylan McLachlan (pictured on Bulls debut last season).

McGiffin has previously played matches for the Brisbane Heat and Queensland Bulls while McLachlan, a Queensland and Australian indigenous representative, made his Marsh One Day Cup debut last summer for Queensland and is currently playing League cricket in the United Kingdom.

Promising Gold Coast pace bowler Zac McDermott, a Queensland Under-19 rep last summer, is the son of former Test quick Craig and younger brother to Alister and Ben McDermott.

University of Queensland left-arm paceman Matt Willans has been included after previously being contracted to the Bulls and Brisbane Heat before suffering a serious shoulder injury three years ago.

There are four female players from outside the Queensland Fire squad, including two-time Kath Smith Medallist Ruby Strange, Queensland Under-19 player Naiya Varidel, Queensland Country allrounder Tarah Staines, and Ipswich pace bowler Erin Moran.

Staines, from Monto, plays Premier Cricket for the Sunshine Coast while Gladstone product Strange has also been a strong Premier Cricket performer in the Katherine Raymont Shield and KFC T20 Max competitions.

The four female players are set to play a role around the new second tier women’s T20 competition in October that will take place prior to the Weber Women’s Big Bash League.

The Academy squads will be reviewed regularly during the season, with players added as appropriate.

Ex-Victorian Women’s coach and Cricket Victoria Academy Program Head Coach Jarrad Loughman has been appointed as the inaugural QC Academy lead, with former State wicketkeeper and coaching identity Gavin Fitness among the coaching staff.

Former New Zealand paceman and recent Australian Under-19 assistant coach Hamish Bennett will be the Academy fast-bowling coach while current BBL spinner Cameron Boyce will work as a spin coach with the Academy and Queensland Fire squads.

Queensland Cricket Head of Elite Cricket Joe Dawes said the addition of an Academy program would help to advance the development of targeted players through the State.

“Cricket devotes a lot of time and resources to identify and grow our playing talent base, and as the game has evolved over time, so has our ability to provide a structure that can enhance skill development,’’ he said.

“The Academy program will initially enable us to further strengthen the connections between Premier Cricket, including the KFC T20 Max, and State teams.”

“As well as player development, the Academy program also enables us to address coaching development and help us to grow the skills and experience of our future coaches,” he said.

The Academy will operate under four main pillars:

  1.  Coach Development.  Help build the skill level of coaches around Queensland.
  2.  Close the Gap. Between Premier Cricket First grade and Higher honors.
  3.  Future Proof.  Identify and prepare for opportunities in sides over next 12, 24 and 36 months
  4. Polish the platinum.  Invest in Under 16/19 Girls and Under 17/19 boys.

Dawes said the Academy was a training and development program and did not guarantee or imply future selection or opportunities. It is intended to complement players' club cricket programs.

Dawes said the Academy program was a key element of the revamped Elite Cricket department, with a new internal structure unveiled recently.

Other Elite Cricket appointments for the 2024-25 season include the male State selection panel headed by incumbent chair Chris Hartley and featuring former Queensland players Greg Moller and Luke Feldman.

Moller will also continue in his role as Elite Player Development Manager & Coach – Male.

New appointments in the Strength and Sports Science Medicine area will see Bulls and Brisbane Heat Strength & Conditioning manager Paul Chapman take on the lead role as Head of Elite Physical Performance.

Former NSW and WA pace bowler Burt Cockley has joined Queensland Cricket as an Elite Physical Performance Coach after previously being the Head of Physical Performance at USA Cricket in their lead-up to the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Toombul pace bowler Ronan McDonald, a former Bulls and Heat player, also comes on board as an Elite Physical Performance Coach after previously working as a Strength & Conditioning coach with QC.

Meanwhile two of Queensland’s most promising teenagers have been included in an Australian Under-19 male training squad.

Norths allrounder Alex Procopis, originally from the Sunshine Coast, and Sandgate-Redcliffe batter Steve Hogan will train alongside other young talent at a camp next month at the National Cricket Centre.

Australia won the ICC Under-19 World Cup earlier this year in South Africa and will tour overseas this season as part of its build-up to the next World Cup in Namibia and Zimbabwe in 2026.

2024-25 Queensland Academy

Male: Steve McGiffin (Western Suburbs), Tom Campbell (Western Suburbs), Sam Geyer (South Brisbane), Jack Wood (Ipswich Hornets), Ashton Gumm (Gold Coast), Scott Palombo (Northern Suburbs), Matt Willans (University of Qld), Tom Balkin (Toombul), Zac McDermott (Gold Coast), Marcus Bean (Northern Suburbs), Dylan McLachlan (Valley), Isaiah Snell (Western Suburbs), Zanden Jeh (South Brisbane).

Female: Erin Moran (Ipswich Hornets), Tarah Staines (Sunshine Coast), Ruby Strange (Western Suburbs), Naiya Varidel (Western Suburbs).

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