Academy boys to tour with Sussex squad

Two members of the Sussex Cricket Boys' Academy will join the professional squad on their pre-season tour to South Africa next month.

Will Sheffield (left) and Jack Carson (right).
Will Sheffield (left) and Jack Carson (right).

As part of their ongoing cricketing development, Jack Carson and Will Sheffield will travel with the players to Cape Town for the two-week trip.

The tour will give the boys the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the culture of the first team, train and play alongside the likes of Jofra Archer, Ben Brown and Luke Wells and develop a relationship with Sussex’s new Head Coach, Jason Gillespie.

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Many of the Sussex professionals on the tour will be familiar with the pathway Jack and Will are taking. Ten of the current squad are Academy graduates.

Academy Director, Carl Hopkinson, said: “Joining the squad’s pre-season tour will be an invaluable experience for Jack and Will.

“They have both developed really well so far this winter, and inclusion in the tour party is deserved recognition of the progress they are making.

“The trip to South Africa will give the boys a further taste of the demands on a professional cricketer and give them an indication of where they are in comparison to our first team squad.”

An off-spinning all rounder, Jack is in his first year on the Academy. Raised in Ireland, but part of the Sussex set-up since he was an under-12, he is studying for his A-levels at Hurstpierpoint College.

Jack has previously played age-group cricket for Ireland but is now working towards England qualification.

Will became the first boy from the Aldridge Cricket Academy to join the Boys’ Academy when he was included in this year’s intake. A left-arm swing bowler and useful lower-order batsman, Will combines his sixth form studies with a dedicated cricket programme at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA).

Sussex Cricket has close links with both the boys’ schools. The Aldridge Foundation sponsors Sussex Cricket’s boys and girls junior and Academy squads and Sussex Women and the state-of-the-art Sir Rod Aldridge Cricket Centre at BACA’s Falmer campus is home to Sussex’s girls and women’s sides. Sussex also share expertise with the Aldridge Cricket Academy on all aspects of cricket from coaching to groundskeeping, including sharing a strength and conditioning coach.

Will is the second student from an Aldridge Foundation school to gain a place on Sussex Cricket’s Academies. Tara Norris was accepted onto the girls’ Academy for the 2016 season whilst a student at the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA). Tara has gone on to become an important member of the Sussex Women’s team.

Aldridge Cricket Academy Director, Alexia Walker commented: “This is a great achievement for Will who has shown a lot of potential and has worked very hard since joining the Aldridge Cricket Academy last year.

“Both Will and Tara’s development have benefitted from the close links the ACA has with Sussex Cricket, including our shared coaching and strength and conditioning staff. I expect more of our talented male and female players to follow them into the County set up in the future.”

Hurstpierpoint College sponsors Sussex Cricket’s Blackstone Academy Ground, where many of the county’s junior, 2nd XI and disability matches are played. Current Sussex professionals, George Garton and Tom Haines are alumni of the school.