Joey Evison and Issy Wong amongst thousands of young people receiving their results on Thursday.

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A number of current and future PCA members were amongst the thousands of UK youngsters to receive their A-Level results on Thursday amidst the unique circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With exams having been scrapped this year, pupils are instead being graded through predictions. It remains a nervous time for teenagers across the country, however, and especially for those who have been balancing their studies with aspirations of a career in professional cricket.

The results will bear particular significance this year, with cricket feeling the financial effect of the pandemic, which has resulted in the UK entering recession. Arguably, in the modern era there has never been a more important time for PCA members to have multiple strings to their bow.

The PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme (PDWP) is a player-centred programme that supports players through key transitions in their lives, facilitates learning and personal development, helps players to maximise their potential as cricketers and prepares them for life after cricket.

As part of the programme, the Association actively encourages young cricketers to maintain some level of study outside of the game.

We caught up with two rising stars of the game – Nottinghamshire’s Joey Evison and England Women’s Academy player Issy Wong – to find out how they’ve achieved that balance and what their ambitions are for the future…

Joey Evison

Evison, 18, is widely regarded as one of the most exciting young players in the English game. With two first-class appearances already under his belt, the Nottinghamshire man also represented his country at the U19 World Cup earlier this year – an experience he describes as “an honour and a privilege.”

Whilst it appears as though the sky’s the limit on the pitch, Evison has been making sure to keep taking strides off it.

The young talent received a double distinction for his BTEC in Sports Science at Stamford School, Lincolnshire, where ex-England seamer Dean Headley has been something of a mentor for him.

At the same time, Evison has been completing a Diploma in Sporting Excellence (DISE) qualification with the ECB, which he fits in around his training at Trent Bridge and is scheduled to complete in December.

“It’s been a different challenge balancing academic studies with my cricket. But I’ve had a lot of support in getting through it and making sure I haven’t gotten behind on the academic side of things,” Evison said.

“Dean Headley has been a massive influence on my school life. I can go and speak to him about more than just cricket, whether it’s to do with school or needing general advice and guidance.

“I don’t know what I want to do after my cricket career at the moment, but if all goes well and I do have a successful career in the game, I’d like to go back into school and coach. I think coaching is where I want to go after my career, so I can stay inside the game for as long as I can.

“It’s a tough choice, but I’d say that appearing at the U19 World Cup was more nerve-wracking than getting my results. Playing for England was a great honour and privilege, and it’s something that hopefully I’ll continue to do in the coming years.”

Issy Wong

Wong, also 18, is one of the rising stars of the women’s game. In 2019, the seamer became the youngest player to feature in the Kia Super League when she appeared for Southern Vipers.

The England Women’s Academy player has also been drafted for the Birmingham Phoenix Hundred side, and is set to become one of the country’s first female domestic pros with the West Midlands Women’s Cricket regional centre later this summer.

Wong studied A-Levels in Mathematics, Computer Science and PE at Shrewsbury School, receiving AAC grades which she is hoping to appeal to AAB.

Though she has decided not to pursue further education for the time being, Wong stressed the importance of keeping options open outside of cricket as she received her grades.

“I’m quite a laid back person, so I wasn’t too nervous, and the experience of receiving my A-Levels was very positive on the whole,” Wong said.

“Juggling cricket and A-Levels has been difficult, but I made sure that when I was in school I was working hard. That gave me the confidence that I could then go and train and not have to stress about homework or revision.

“The support I’ve had from school has been amazing. All my teachers and my housemistress knew my situation, that I might not be in every lesson and may be away for the weekend with not much time to do the work, but they always trusted that I would catch up in the end.

“I think it’s very important to have other things going on outside of cricket. Especially as a seamer, I could go out tomorrow, have a stress fracture and never bowl again. You just don’t know what’s going to happen, so it’s nice to have the peace of mind that I have my A-Levels to fall back on.

“It takes the pressure off my cricket as well. As much as cricket is now my job, it needs to be something that I enjoy, otherwise I’m never going to be able to get the best out of myself.”