Cricket Ireland, Cricket Scotland, La Manga Club join forces to create new cricket centre
Cricket Ireland, Cricket Scotland and the La Manga Club have partnered together to create a European Cricket Performance Centre - the first of its kind in the continent - at the world-famous sports venue.
The leisure and sports resort has signed a ground-breaking 10-year deal with the two governing bodies and will develop an exclusive warm-weather overseas training base in Murcia, south-east Spain.
It will be designed to help both teams prepare their players for the rigours of international cricket and develop players and coaches.
The first phase of the project is due to open in January 2017, and in a joint statement from both boards, they expressed their delight.
"This is the culmination of a long-term project to develop state-of-the-art training facilities on continental Europe," the statement read.
"Rather than having to travel to the UAE or further afield to escape our long winters, our players at all levels now have the chance to train in a cost-effective way on world-class grass and artificial surfaces in a warm-weather southern European setting on a year-round basis.
"Both boards extend particular congratulations to Richard Holdsworth for his vision and dedication in working closely with the La Manga Club team over a period of 11 years to bring this important project to fruition."
The terms of the partnership offer Cricket Ireland and Cricket Scotland exclusive booking options to use the centre as a warm-weather training and playing base for its men's and women's senior, provincial and youth teams.
Facilities available to the players and coaches will include six first-class grass pitches and two artificial pitchs on two existing grounds as well as 18 grass and five artificial net lanes. All of these lanes will have 25-yard bowlers' run-ups and there will also be specialist grass fielding, catching and wicket-keeping areas created.
The artificial pitches will be ready in January 2017 and the grass net and pitches are scheduled to be fit for use by spring 2018.
Chad Harpur, director of sports at La Manga Club, said:
"This agreement will open up a whole new market for La Manga Club.
"The cricket facility will be the best in Europe and is something we are very proud to be part of.
"It has taken many years to get to this point and we’d like to thank everyone involved for believing in the project.
"This is the start of a new chapter in our history and we are all looking forward to it.
"As a top resort, it is very important that we keep on improving and investing in the future.
"This is a huge step forward and is further evidence that La Manga Club is still the best sporting resort in Europe."
La Manga is already regularly used for warm-weather training breaks by county and international teams and is a regular venue for ICC European tournaments, meaning it is now widely regarded as the 'home of cricket' in Spain.
© Cricket World 2016