Kathryn Cross has become the first female to be awarded an Academy cricket contract by Lancashire.

The 15-year-old Bury Grammar School pupil, who is the daughter of former Wanderers striker David Cross, has been accepted on the club's thriving youth program that has produced the likes of Tom Smith and Gareth Cross.

The teenager, pictured above, plays for Heywood and has represented the county's senior women's team since the age of 13.

"Irrespective of gender, our criteria is to select the best possible talent that we can," said Academy director John Stanworth, who knew the selection would raise eyebrows but is intent on nurturing her talent as he would with any of the young male stars. "I know why people are focusing on Kathryn, and it can't be helped, but I don't want to single her out to be any different to the others we have selected.

"She is, though, a very good bowler who is not fazed by playing against males. She bowls it at a good pace and is one the quickest around."

But Kathryn will not be able to play first-class cricket, and it is not yet clear whether she can play second XI cricket.

Her father, who also played for Manchester City and West Ham, scored 10 goals for the Whites in the mid-80s.

Chorley leg-spinner Gaurav Dar and former Horwich batsman Nick Woods were also selected.