Conveyor belt of Sussex stars produced by First Class Cricket Academy

The founder of First Class Cricket Academy Raj Chaudhuri with pupils at Worth School, near Crawley.
The founder of First Class Cricket Academy Raj Chaudhuri with pupils at Worth School, near Crawley.

A back-to-basics approach is helping a Sussex-based cricket academy produce a conveyor belt of talent.

Current Sussex trio Tom Haines, Stuart Whittingham and Abi Sakande are just three names who have progressed from First Class Cricket Academy (FCCA), an academy operating out of Worth School near Crawley and Imberhorne School at East Grinstead.

First Class Cricket Academy founder Raj Chaudhuri.

First Class Cricket Academy founder Raj Chaudhuri.

FCCA was formed by Raj Chaudhuri, Jerry Heath and Graham Irwin in 2006 with the vision of becoming the best cricket coaching academy in Sussex by providing young players with strong fundamentals in all departments of the game and making sure that all players fulfil their potential. Their motto ‘Confidence through competence’ could not be truer.

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With Heath and Irwin having moved on to other areas of coaching, it is Chaudhuri – a former first-class cricketer from India and an ECB level 4 coach – who now nurtures the hopes and dreams of the young boys and girls who arrive at FCCA looking to take their careers to the next level.

Chaudhuri, who is also Head of Cricket at Worth School and has worked extensively with Sussex CCC, Berkshire, ICC Europe and Western Province, focuses on instilling strong basics in players and giving them a strong work ethic. Concentration, focus, tactics and handling pressure are all areas where Chaudhuri and his team of ECB qualified coaches put great emphasis.

First Class Cricket Academy founder Raj Chaudhuri with pupils at Worth School, near Crawley.

First Class Cricket Academy founder Raj Chaudhuri with pupils at Worth School, near Crawley.

The results speak for themselves, with an impressive list of players who have gone on to play county cricket, for MCC University, county academies or county senior women’s teams. As well as Haines, Whittingham and Sakande, Fynn Hudson-Prentice went from FCCA to playing first-class cricket for Sussex.

Oli Graham, Joe Ludlow, Ben Shoare, Bradley Gayler, Nick Oxley, Nikki Chaudhuri, Megan Janman and Hannah Phelps are others who have gone on to enjoy a variety of achievements in the game while, of the current crop, 30 FCCA boys and girls are currently involved in county age group or academy programmes. The academy offers one-to-one coaching, group coaching at beginner, inter and elite level (inter and elite levels are by invitation only), overseas tours, training camps and holiday camps to help further an individual’s cricket education.

They also want to solve the current problem of participation in the UK from a completely different angle.

Chaudhuri said: “We believe that the drop out happens mainly due to poor skill levels and hence, by improving the skill levels, we feel players will stay longer in the game as they enjoy the game more while contributing positively rather than being just a number on the team sheet.”

A number of the youngsters work with Chaudhuri at both FCCA and as students of Worth, a school that was last week named for the first time in The Cricketer magazine’s 100 top cricketing schools – highlighting the impact Chaudhuri is having in different areas of youth cricket.

To find out more about First Class Cricket Academy, go to: http://www.fccaltd.com/