RAINFORD cricketer Ellie Threlkeld will lead North West Thunder on a historic pre-season tour of Dubai alongside Lancashire's men's team.

The trip will be the first joint men’s and women’s tour ever undertaken by a first-class county as both sides head to the UAE for a pre-season training camp, departing from Manchester Airport on Monday, March 7.

Both Red Rose squads will face a mixture of training and matches across their time in Dubai, Lancashire Cricket’s first post-Covid visit to their regular warm weather base in the UAE.

Based out of the Conrad Dubai, the men’s team and Thunder will both train and play at the ICC Academy during the trip whilst there will also be a day of T20 action held at The Sevens Stadium.

In the absence of England’s Cricket World Cup trio Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone and Emma Lamb as well as Alex Hartley who is on BBC Sport commentary duties in New Zealand – Thunder will be led by 23-year-old Threlkeld, fresh from England A’s recent tour of Australia.

Thunder’s travelling squad of 14 features Laura Jackson and Phoebe Graham who both signed professional deals during the winter along with fellow contracted players Georgie Boyce and Hannah Jones. 

The 20-strong men’s travelling party – led by skipper Dane Vilas - includes Liam Livingstone, new addition Phil Salt and the fit-again Keaton Jennings with James Anderson, Jos Buttler, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson the only absentees.

Joe Mennie – the Australian pace bowler who featured for the Club as an overseas player back in 2018 – is now based in the UK and has been training with the squad at Emirates Old Trafford during the winter and will also travel to Dubai.

The opening matches of the tour will take place on Friday 11 March, in the form of a T20 doubleheader with Lancashire Lightning in action against UAE whilst Paul Shaw’s Thunder take on UAE Women.

Thunder will be back in T20 action again against UAE Women twice more on the trip – on Saturday 12 and Monday 14 March – with T20 days of doubleheaders being played at the ICC Academy.

Glen Chapple’s team will return to action on Tuesday 15 March with the start of a two-day friendly against the touring Loughborough MCCU side before rounding off the trip with another two-day fixture against UAE starting on Friday 18 March.

A number of matches on the Thunder and Lightning tour, presented by Hilton, will be live streamed from Dubai with more details set to be announced next week on how you can watch action from Lancashire Cricket’s 2022 pre-season camp.

Mark Chilton, Director of Cricket Performance, said, “We’re very excited to be taking out the men’s and women’s squads to Dubai this year for our pre-season tour over the next couple of weeks.

“It’s the first time we’ve embarked on a joint tour, which is a first in county cricket, and shows Lancashire Cricket’s commitment to the women’s game.

“It will be great for both sets of players to get outside in Dubai, after a long winter in the Indoor School, where they’ll be able to start to increase workloads and get some match practice in ahead of the start to the season.”