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Higher education on the agenda for ambitious duo.

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Professional cricketers Paul Horton and Gary Wilson are already preparing for life after cricket after starting a Master of Sport Directorship course at Manchester Metropolitan University in September.

With almost 900 professional appearances between them, Horton and Wilson have sought help from the Professional Cricketers’ Association for the qualification, a part-time executive level course which former professionals, Ashley Giles, Mark Chilton and Vikram Solanki have completed previously.

With both cricketers still plying their trade in the professional game, they have decided to plan so that when they do decide to transition out of the game the process will be easier. The two-year course is the world’s first qualification of its kind, now in its fourth year, it is aimed at professionals who want to gain a unique Masters qualification that prepares them for the role of sporting director.

The average age a professional cricketers career ends is just 26 so therefore helping players transition into a second career is a key element of the PCA Personal Development and Welfare Programme.

Despite Horton and Wilson both surpassing the average age for cricket retirement, both have highlighted the necessity of finding a career beyond the field and most importantly finding a second career they enjoy.

“The PCA do such a great job and I can’t thank my PDM Charlie Mulraine enough for giving me that final nudge to actually get on and do the course,” said Ireland wicketkeeper, Wilson.

“I see myself going into this field when I eventually finish playing. While I am more than aware, I am not going to walk out of playing cricket and into a director of cricket role, once I get a few years coaching under my belt it is something I would like to pursue. Having business and leadership knowledge, which this course will provide will stand me in good stead for the future.

“For years I have flirted with the idea of doing something outside of cricket but I guess I have always wanted to put my eggs into the playing basket.

“Playing for Ireland it made it more difficult to look beyond the cricket field as we are away so much in the winter. My Personal Development manager Charlie Mulraine persuaded me now was a good time and he managed to find a space for me so that was great.

“I have been lucky enough to be in a couple of dressing rooms where I have been a leader and I have played some of my best cricket when I have been in that position so it’s clearly something I enjoy.”

As well as finding a potential career path that suits, current Leicestershire cricketer Paul Horton has expressed his gratitude to the PCA and his county for their understanding and financial support.

“It’s an expensive course so I had to make sure financially I was in a position to do it and if I could get some support from the PCA,” said Horton.

“A year ago I looked into it and then I decided I wasn’t ready for it with family commitments and everything else but a year on it made my mind up with this course suited me better. It’s all about timing and other cricketers have done the course as well, it really sits with my interests.

“Leicester have been great so far in understanding my commitments and Wasim Khan has supported and pushed me into it. That really means a lot, as I know I have their backing at times I will have to be away at university.

“Speaking to guys who have been on the course you go into different environments and learn. It benefits you as it gets you out of your comfort zone and this course will get Gary and myself out of our comfort zone.

“I think we’re both looking forward to the different conversations within sport will as it will be really interesting and I’m sure there will be a cross over where we can share and help others.”

For more information on the Personal Development and Welfare Programme click here.