David Ripley will head up a brand new, revolutionary sixth form programme in Luton and Central Bedfordshire in 2022.

The Luton Steelbacks Cricket Academy, delivered by The Shared Learning Trust and Northamptonshire County Cricket Club is the first of its kind for the area.

The collaboration will provide year 11 students the opportunity to benefit from a standalone sixth form programme combining an extensive education offer and elite level cricket programme.

Based over two campuses at The Stockwood Park and The Chalk Hills Academies, players will benefit from elite level cricket coaching delivered by Northamptonshire coaches under the leadership of Ripley.

Northamptonshire Chief Executive Ray Payne said: “The Luton Steelbacks Cricket Academy is a fantastic demonstration of Northamptonshire’s working with our neighbouring national counties to offer cricket development in an educational environment.

“We are committed and passionate to offer young people greater opportunities within cricket”

The programme aims to continue the growth of cricket in Luton by building on the work of initiatives such as the Lord’s Taverners Wicketz programme which is already widely delivered across the town. The Luton Steelbacks Cricket Academy will provide the elite level pathway for talented cricketers to continue their development both educationally and professionally within the game of cricket.

“I think the real nugget for the cricket club is to try and find that talented cricketer that is going to come out of Luton and end up going onto the Northamptonshire Cricket Academy and perhaps end up making their debut for the first team.” Luton Steelbacks Cricket Academy Professional Coach David Ripley said.

“I think that burning desire to find that cricketer is something that is really going to make this scheme work.

“The excitement of heading up the programme and working closely with those involved for a couple of years to see them develop and grow as young people and young cricketers is something that I am really excited about.”

Louise Lee, Executive Principal of The Chalk Hills and Stockwood Park academies said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with many organisations including Wicketz, and we are thrilled to be working with Northamptonshire County Cricket Club. This is a real opportunity to put both cricket and academic learning as a major part of our wide sixth-form offer.”