Despite being a National County (see more details about County Cricket here) at Men’s level, there is no obstacle to a boy or girl from Buckinghamshire going onto a professional career in cricket.
Players progress through the Bucks Cricket Pathway until they are signed onto a professional team’s Academy – usually at aged 16-18. On the men’s side, we are partnered with Northants CCC and on the women’s pathway with the Southern Vipers.
We have our own Emerging Players Programmes (aged 14-18) for our highest potential and performing boys and girls. These programmes then link directly into Northants CCC and Southern Vipers, with coaches from both teams coming into Bucks to coach on our EPPs alongside Bucks Cricket coaches.
Although Northants CCC and Southern Vipers are our partner professional teams, there will be times when another pro team is the right option for a talented young cricketer, and Bucks Cricket staff will utilise our links with ECB Talent Managers and across the Academies to provide the opportunities for our players to progress.
In the Male Pathway, there is no difference to being in a ‘First-Class’ or ‘National County’ pathway, until at least the age of 17. Up until U13s all counties play friendlies. At U14 and U16 all counties are in regionalised ECB Cup groups alongside counties from both first-class and national county (U15 is friendlies). At U18, boys' national county teams compete against first-class counties in the 50 over cup, but there are separate 3-day and 50-over competition (sometimes national county, i.e. Bucks, players are dual registered for these to access both first-class and national county teams competitions).
For players of high potential at U18 who have not progressed into the pro game, the best progress into Bucks Men’s teams, where we have a 1st XI in the NCCA 3-day, 50-over and T20 competitions and a 2nd XI that feeds into that. Later developers can use NCCA performances to showcase their ability and force their way into the men's professional game through consistent performances, showcase games and national NCCA trials run at Loughborough University for the first-class counties. There is a good argument that suggests that is more beneficial to come through a National County Pathway rather than a First-Class County Pathway because of the opportunity to play for both in matches from 17 years and older.
In the Female Pathway, there is no difference between counties at any stage of the pathway, including Women’s Cricket. For e.g. in both Women's ECB T20 and South Central 50-over competitions in 2023, Bucks compete against Hampshire, Sussex and Berkshire, while also playing Oxfordshire and Dorset in the South Central Cup. There are ECB competitions at U15 and U18 with geographically based groups. When a player is selected into regional cricket (e.g. Southern Vipers) they will continue to play County Cricket for both the age groups and Women’s teams.
We love seeing our current professional players come back to represent Bucks when their commitments allow. For example, Saif Zaib played for Bucks men in the 2023 NCCA T20 when not in the Northants CCC County Championship team, and Ella Claridge played for Bucks women in 2022 in the ECB T20 before securing a contract in The Hundred for Trent Rockets.
Current professional players from Bucks who have come through the Bucks Cricket Pathway:
Men: Alex Hales (Notts),Tom Helm (Middx),Saif Zaib (Northants),Dom Goodman (Gloucs),Harry Petrie (Hants),George Weldon (Northants)
Women: Chloe Hill (Vipers),Ella Claridge (Blaze),Bethan Miles (Stars)
Bucks Cricket also have 4 boys currently signed on the Northants CCC Academy – they will all represent Bucks in the ECB U18 50-over Cup as well as other games depending on their schedules.