North Devon bowler Craig Overton is one of the first beneficiaries of an England pace bowling development contract.

Barnstaple-born Overton, who plays his club cricket for Somerset, is one of three bowling prospects to be handed the new development contract.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced the introduction of the initiative. It will see players continue to be employed by their counties but with the governing body making a 'significant contribution' to costs.

Under the terms of the deals, players will spend more time with personnel from the ECB's National Performance Centre, who will have a greater say on their workload over the year.

As part of the agreement, Overton, Lancashire's Saqib Mahmood and Warwickshire's Olly Stone, commit to making themselves to participating in England Lions individualised player programmes and any tours for the second string, subject to be being selected.

Ashley Giles, Managing Director - England Men's Cricket, said: "Having a strong supply line of high-quality seam bowlers is an essential ingredient for sustained England Team success in both white-ball and red-ball cricket.

"We are very grateful to the First-Class Counties for agreeing to this, in particular, Lancashire, Somerset and Warwickshire. We are committed to working very closely with them to best develop players for the long-term benefit of English cricket and to ensure they are at their very best to perform at optimum levels throughout the domestic campaign."

Overton, the most experienced of the trio, is highly regarded by the England set-up and has represented the senior side in Test and ODI formats respectively.

His last Test cap came against Australia in the fourth Ashes Test last summer at Emirates Old Trafford, and he was recently called-up to the tour of South Africa as cover for the seamers.

The 24-year-old will play a pivotal role during the England Lions tour of Australia, which gets under way on February 1.

The players will remain under contract until September 30, 2020.

Overton is set to feature in The Hundred this summer for Southampton-based side Southern Brave.

The Brave's squad includes England World Cup hero Jofra Archer and Ollie Pope, who enjoyed a superb tour of South Africa with the England test squad.

Overseas talent in the squad includes West Indies big-hitter Andre Russell and Australian opener David Warner.