By Andy Tong
IZZY CLOKE of Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club has been called up to join the England Women’s Senior Academy squad.
This latest development in her dedicated and impressive career leaves her only a few steps away from representing the team who inspired the nation in 2017.
England women won the World Cup in memorable fashion in July and scooped the Team of the Year award at the BBC’s Sports Personality ceremony.
The 17-year-old, from Goudhurst, is an opening bowler and middle-order bat who joined the girls’ section at The Nevill in 2012. Last season she scored 370 runs for the club at a Bradman-esque average of 92, including five half-centuries.
She was first selected on to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) women’s development pathway in 2014 and captained the Academy in two T20 games against Scotland last summer – both of which England won.
‘I am thrilled to have been invited to join the Senior Academy squad and I’m really looking forward to the winter training programme as preparation for summer 2018, in which I would love to continue playing and coaching at Tunbridge Wells’
She also represented Kent’s senior squad throughout last season, having made her debut in 2016 in a T20 match against Sussex at Arundel Castle.
At Kent she is now fully integrated into the senior team and ‘made to feel very welcome’. She opens the bowling with England squad member Tash Farrant.
However, Izzy faces a rigorous programme to keep up with all her activities – especially since she will be taking her A Levels at Cranbrook School next summer.
She said: “I am thrilled to have been invited to join the Senior Academy squad and I’m really looking forward to the winter training programme as preparation for summer 2018, in which I would love to continue playing and coaching at Tunbridge Wells.”
Another member of the Academy squad, Alice Davidson-Richards, has also been a member at TWCC since before the girls’ section was formed in 2009.
The Senior Academy is designed to bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket, developing skills on and off the field.
It holds training camps for three days every fortnight throughout the winter at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough.
She is also committed to seven prescribed strength and conditioning sessions every week, structured by the ECB coaches.
Most of these sessions have to be completed in the evenings at her local gym in Goudhurst, or during free periods at school.
She attends one-on-one skills sessions once a week in Tonbridge for batting and bowling – and is also a keen hockey player, training with Cranbrook School 1st XI and playing in competitive matches on Saturdays.
Her father Andrew, who runs the women’s cricket section at TWCC, says: “She has to fit her training around her academic timetable, although the increase in intensity this winter has resulted in much more study time given over to cricket.
“She is very focused and has an unswerving determination to succeed. In the short term, she would like to play in the expanded Kia Super League during July and August 2018.
“The KSL offers great exposure and an -opportunity to perform with and against the best players in the world. Izzy’s progress to full England colours is far from certain – but it certainly won’t be for lack of effort.”
He believes she is in good hands despite the heavy workload at such a young age, saying: “The ECB are very supportive and have designed a holistic programme which embraces all aspects of player development.
“In addition to cricket skills, most camps include specialist sessions on psychology, personal welfare development, nutrition, strength and conditioning. The ECB closely monitors -everyone’s health. Bowling workloads are strictly managed and every player reports weekly on their personal well-being.”
The governing body’s Women’s High -Performance Manager Jonathan Finch said: “Izzy has made the transition after -impressing over the summer and joins a squad with several players looking to push on to -international honours in the near future.”
He added: “We are excited by the players and the coaching team we have working with this group and following on from their initial camp in Desert Springs the younger players will be working towards a tri-series against Australia and South Africa next year.”