Essex company Sidearm has developed a unique product that provides cricket players around the world.

Essex company Sidearm has developed a unique product that provides cricket players around the world with the opportunity to improve the quality of batting practice. The company worked closely with a mentor from the Essex Innovation Programme (EIP).

EIP helps Essex companies like Sidearm to improve competitiveness and market share by offering advice on sourcing design and manufacturing support, as well as guidance on taking the product to market.

"The 'Sidearm™ ' should be an indispensable part of the coach's kit bag."

Graham Gooch

"The Sidearm™ will play an important part in batting practice in the future."

Grant Flower

Innovation in Essex

Sidearm is acknowledged by leading national team coaches such as England’s Graham Gooch as the most important improvement to batting practice in a generation. The product enables players of all standards to replicate all the rhythms and trajectories of a real bowler, with minimal strain on the bowler. One person using Sidearm can provide a batsman with quick, accurate, swinging and seaming deliveries with little effort.

Sidearm has been endorsed by leading players and coaches, such as England’s Andy Flower and Paul Grayson. It is currently in use by teams around the country from school and village cricket teams to county championship sides. The company now has distributors in leading cricket nations such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and is developing business in the Caribbean, India and Pakistan.

Developing a winning product

Sidearm is a small family business, based at Writtle in Essex. Frank and Alice Thorogood first developed the design for Sidearm™ in 2005. Over the next three years they spent almost £50,000 on further development of the product before the business received a significant boost from the Barclays Bank “Take One Small Step” award programme.

The programme invited submissions from innovative small businesses. Sidearm progressed to the final and were voted winners of the £50,000 cash prize.

Mentoring for success

From the outset, Frank and Alice Thorogood worked with a mentor from the Essex Innovation Programme. The programme, run by Essex County Council, offers growing businesses useful contacts and a range of services to help develop products and improve their competitiveness and market share.

“The mentoring was brilliant. It  gave us confidence and helped to point our business in the right direction. He put us in touch with a company in Cambridge who were able to help us finalise our designs. We also used the links that Essex International have with China to identify a suitable manufacturer.”

Alice Thorogood

Essex logistics advantage

Sidearm benefits from the county’s excellent logistics infrastructure to simplify UK and international distribution. The business has easy access to the main A12 trunk road and is only 20 minutes from the M11 with its links to the national motorway network. London Stansted Airport, less than 30 minutes away, serves more than 200 cargo destinations worldwide, making it an important link in the company’s global supply and distribution chain.

Growing business in Essex

The company is now on a solid footing financially, thanks to the “Take One Small Step” award. The mentoring programme has given Sidearm a clear direction that has helped it to expand into national and international markets.

Find out more -

Emma Wakeling
Emma Wakeling

Business Innovation Manager

07921 397050


Leading on the Essex Innovation Programme and developing new support mechanisms to enable Essex businesses to grow. Managing a team of experienced private sector business mentors who work closely with multi-sectoral established businesses and start-ups to embed innovative practices. Focusing on product (including intellectual property), process, organisational and marketing innovation. Developing key collaborative strategic partnerships with industry and academia.