Leading figures from the cricket world headed to Spain’s La Manga Club this week for the official opening of the resort’s new European Cricket Performance Centre – the first of its kind in Europe.
National cricket board chiefs joined dignitaries, county cricket representatives and select members of the media at the top sports and leisure destination resort in Murcia, south-east Spain, for the official inauguration of the state-of-the-art facility.
The centre at La Manga Club has been created in partnership with Cricket Ireland and Cricket Scotland as part of a new ten-year agreement to develop an exclusive warm-weather overseas training base in continental Europe.
Designed to help prepare men’s and women’s teams for international cricket as well as assisting with the development of players and coaches, the first phase of the jointly-funded project was completed this spring, and both Ireland and Scotland’s senior first-team squads have taken advantage of the chance to use the centre’s facilities ahead of the 2017 season.
Ireland have had a busy start to the summer, including one-day international series against England, Bangladesh and New Zealand this month, while Scotland will host Zimbabwe for two one-day internationals in June.
Richard Holdsworth, performance director for Cricket Ireland, said: “Given the short season in both countries, Cricket Ireland and Cricket Scotland have prioritised the provision of warm-weather, high-quality outdoor practice and playing facilities for our international and domestic teams.
“This world-class new European Cricket Performance Centre will aid the development and preparation of our players ahead of international series and ICC world cup events.
“There will be no other facility in Europe which boasts such good all-year-round weather, has two grass pitches as well as 24 grass and artificial nets.
“It will allow schools, clubs and international teams from all over Europe to train and play in great facilities only a couple of hours flight away.
“Both boards are extremely grateful to the ICC for its generous support to the development of this facility which will benefit not just Irish and Scottish teams at all levels, but all European member countries.
“We are looking forward to a long partnership with La Manga Club who must be congratulated for developing such an outstanding facility.”
Under the terms of the partnership, Cricket Ireland and Cricket Scotland will have exclusive booking options for using the centre as a warm-weather training and playing base for its men’s and women’s national and provincial senior and youth teams.
Work on the artificial pitches was completed this spring, with the grass net and pitch areas scheduled to be in use by early next year.
When the centre is finished, the facilities will include six updated first-class grass pitches and two artificial wickets on two existing grounds, plus 18 grass and five artificial net lanes – all with 25-yard run-ups.
In addition, there will also be specialist grass fielding, catching and wicket-keeping areas.
Chad Harpur, director of sports at La Manga Club, said: “La Manga Club prides itself on being one of the world’s elite sporting resorts, making it the obvious choice to build Europe’s first cricket performance centre.
“State-of-the-art facilities such as this demonstrates the resort’s desire to keep on improving and investing in the future, and we’re looking forward to welcoming cricket’s present and next generation of stars to La Manga Club over the coming years.”
Regularly used for warm-weather training breaks by county and international teams as well as being a regular venue for ICC European tournaments, La Manga Club is widely regarded as the ‘home of cricket’ in Spain.
Boasting an average 300 days’ sun a year, the resort’s ideal Mediterranean climate makes it possible to train outdoors in the sunshine all-year round, and the cricket centre is a further illustration of La Manga Club’s commitment to providing both professional and amateur athletes with the perfect training experience.
Set in 1,400 acres, La Manga Club boasts unrivalled facilities including a High Performance Sports Centre and recently-opened modern high-altitude training facility iAltitude.
Additionally, there are three 18-hole golf courses, a 28-court tennis centre and a 2,000sqm spa and fitness centre.
It also offers the choice of a five-star hotel, four-star serviced apartments and more than 20 bars and restaurants.