In just two years, seven Cardiff MCC University players have signed contracts with professional cricket clubs across the UK, having been bowled over with the talent being produced by the club.
The highly prestigious MCCU scheme is made up of players from Cardiff Met, Cardiff University and the University of South Wales, and is one of only six university centres of cricketing excellence in the UK supported by Marylebone Cricket Club.
Of the seven players to sign professional contracts within the past two year, six are current students or alumni of Cardiff Met. Making their mark in top tier cricket are Tom Cullen, Jeremy Lawlor, Dan Douthwaite, and Connor Brown, who have all signed contracts with Glamorgan County Cricket Club. Meanwhile, Alex Thomson has signed for Warwickshire CCC, Alex Milton for Worcestershire CCC, and Cardiff Uni’s Tim Rouse for Somerset CCC.
Mark O’Leary, Cardiff South Wales MCCU Head Cricket Coach and Cricket Lecturer at Cardiff Met, said: “We are thrilled that such a high number of our players have gone on to join professional cricket clubs, and they all thoroughly deserve it.
“The elite performance programme here mirrors many first-class County programmes therefore the students have to organise and manage a demanding workload of performance and study.
“The news showcases the impact that the programme here at Cardiff MCCU is continuing to have at the very top of the game, as well as the calibre of player that we are consistently able to produce.”
Warwickshire CCC’s Alex Thompson said: "Studying at Cardiff Metropolitan University and being a member of Cardiff MCCU allowed me to have the exposure of training like a professional whilst pursuing academic accreditations. All those who undergo the MCCU cricket scheme at Cardiff are exposed to top level coaching from Mark O'Leary, Graham Haines and Mark Walton- it was a real privilege to operate under these gents.
“Graduating in 2016 I returned to Cardiff Met to further my education in the form of PGCE specialising in Physical Education. The MCCU worked tirelessly to accommodate my academic requirements whilst ensuring I was still receiving the highest level of coaching for player development. The experiences which the MCCU provides has seen numerous recent old boys go on to first class cricket and I'm sure it will see many more in the near future."
Worcestershire CCC’s Alex Milton said: “The scheme has been a massive part of my development as a cricketer over the past couple of years. It has not only improved my technical skills as a cricketer, but also my fitness capabilities. I have got to thank Mark O’Leary and the coaching team for their dedication, commitment and support of the squad.”
Glamorgan CCC’s Dan Douthwaite said: “Without a doubt, my three years on the Cardiff South Wales MCCU has gotten me into the position that I am in today, with a three year deal at Glamorgan CCC. Being in a professional set up whilst also being able to get yourself a degree at university is invaluable and something that I would highly recommend to any aspiring cricketer leaving or having left school.
“Besides being able to get myself a degree for life after cricket, the scheme has made my unrealistic dream, as an 18 year old, of being a professional cricketer, today a reality. I owe my career to Mark O’Leary and the rest of the support team who worked tirelessly with me over my three years at Cardiff Metropolitan University, to help me with my studies, whilst turning me into a professional cricketer.”
Tom Cullen, who has signed for Glamorgan CCC added: “My time at Cardiff Met were the best years of my life. If I didn’t spend three years at Cardiff Met combining my studies with chasing my ambition to play first class cricket in the UK, I wouldn’t be playing for Glamorgan now. I owe a great debt to Cardiff MCCU and especially the staff there for the opportunity they presented me to realise my potential as a player.
“Mark O'Leary deserves a lot of credit for the way he encourages and pushes everyone to realise their full potential not only just on the cricket field, but as an individual that will eventually have to go out into the working world and make it a success. I owe the scheme, Uni and Mark a great deal up until this point and I’ll always look incredibly fondly of my years on the scheme and at Cardiff Met.”
Cardiff MCC University head coach Mark O’Leary received the ECB England and Wales Cricket Board’s 2018 Coach of the Year award, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the sport over the past two decades.
An ECB Level 4 coach, Mark also takes on duties as part of the academic staff at Cardiff Met University, where he has worked for 19 years and has been involved with Cardiff MCCU for 10 years – six of which have been served as head coach.
To read this story in Welsh, click here.