Cricket: Sussex announce next crop of would-be stars of their future

Jamie Atkins is one of the new intake
Jamie Atkins is one of the new intake

Eight boys have been awarded places in the Sussex Cricket Academy for 2018.

Four of the intake retain their places from 2017, whilst four new faces are welcomed into the joint programme between Sussex Cricket and the ECB that is overseen by Academy Director and former Sussex CCC batsman, Carl Hopkinson.

Tom Clark, Will Collard, Tom Gordon and Harrison Ward are the returning players and they will be joined by Jamie Atkins, Jack Carson, Henry Crocombe and Will Sheffield.

Jamie Atkins is a right-arm seamer who bowled consistently well as an under-15 in the Sussex Under-17 side that shared the national three-day Championship this season. A student of The Forest School in Horsham and a member of Roffey CC, Jamie has represented Sussex since he was an under-10.

Part of the intake for the first time, all-rounder Jack Carson is a right-handed, middle-order batsman and off-spin bowler. In the first year of his A-levels at Hurstpierpoint College – where recent Academy graduates George Garton and Tom Haines were schooled -, Jack has been with Sussex since he was an under-12.

Fellow all-rounder Tom Clark is a left-handed, top-order batsman and right-arm medium pacer bowler who will be in his second year on the Academy. In his first year of sixth-form studies, he is a student at Ardingly College, the alma mater of current Sussex CCC players Ben Brown and Abi Sakande. Tom was injured for much of the 2017 season, but returned at the back end of the Under-17s’ successful three-day campaign and averaged 53 in his three appearances.

In his final year at Hurstpierpoint, Will Collard is a leg-spin bowler who averaged 17 with the ball for the Under-17s last season. Part of the county system since he was an under-10, Will was first selected for the Academy in 2017 after impressing on a pre-season tour. He has continued to develop over the past season and is part of the Academy intake for a second year.

Henry Crocombe is another right-arm seamer that featured for the Under-17s whilst an under-15 this season. Sitting his GCSEs at Bede’s next summer – the school where Luke Wells was educated - and with Sussex since he was an under-12, Henry was selected for London & South East at the English School’s Cricket Association Under-15s festival and at the ECB’s Super-4s Under-17 competition. This will be his first year in the Academy.

The third all-rounder in the 2018 intake is Tom Gordon, a middle-order, right-handed batsman and right-arm seamer who has been part of the Academy for the past two seasons. Another Bede’s student, Tom – who is in his first year of A-levels – had his 2017 appearances for Sussex limited by injury.

Will Sheffield is a left-arm swing bowler who enters his first year on the Sussex Academy. Having been involved in district and area cricket for some time, Will broke into the county age-group squad in 2017 and impressed with his contributions to the Under-17s’ successful season. He averaged just 14 with the ball and displayed his prowess as a lower-order batsmen when he hit an unbeaten 76 in the final of the three-day Championship. In his final year at the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy, Will is the first boy from the Aldridge Cricket Academy to move onto the Sussex Academy.

Harrison Ward will be entering his third year as an Academy player. In his final year at St. Edward’s School in Oxford, he is part of the Sussex set-up thanks to the club’s partnership with the Oxfordshire Cricket Board. Harrison is a left-handed top-order batsman with the potential to play in all formats of the game. He also bowls off-spin that is particularly effective in one-day cricket. After appearing in an invitational England Under-19 fixture against India, injury ruled him out of most of the 2017 county season.

Academy Director, Carl Hopkinson, said: “I’m very excited about this year’s Academy intake. We’ve got a good mix of spinners, seamers, all-rounders and top-order batsmen and a good mix of age ranges across all these disciplines. All those included in the 2018 intake played a part in the Under-17s success in the County Championship, which highlights the strength of this group of players”.

The announcement of the 2018 girls’ Academy and EPP intake will be made next week.