PLANS to build a new cricket academy in Swindon have been launched with a masterclass from ex-England international Mark Alleyne.

The facility, the first of its kind in the country, will be based at the Swindon Academy site in Pinehurst and provide children the chance to study the sport all the way through from primary age until they leave the sixth form.

Former county cricketer Ian Richardson is the assistant curriculum leader of physical education at the school and the man behind the £250,000 project.

He said: “To get to this point has been a year in the making, and I’m extremely pleased to see how far we have come.

“It has already attracted a lot of interest from students whether keen cricketers or new to the sport, it will be brilliant to bring this to Swindon.”

Ian added: “This is an experience that state schools don’t tend to get and we hope to develop talented cricketers throughout the year.”

The ex-Gloucestershire captain Mark Alleyne was joined by Wiltshire county player Uzi Qureshi and Swindon Cricket Club and Wiltshire coach Wayne Pascall for the masterclass this week.

Sport England, Youth Sports Trust and the English Cricket Board are sponsoring the scheme and a partnership has been formed with Marlborough College to support it.

The hope is that the facility will be built next year. Once up and running the educational programme will see pupils involved with 15 hours of the course per week, studying either A-level or BTEC courses. It will also include seven hours of practical coaching sessions where students will train four times a week, enabling them to achieve coaching qualifications alongside their academic study.

At first the scheme will be made available to sixth form students who will also have the opportunity to go on tour overseas to Sri Lanka.

There are plans to work with local clubs in Swindon, Royal Wootton Bassett and Purton to attract young talent, with the aim of turning the academy into a centre of excellence