Young Sussex Cricket trio - including two 16-year-olds - sign rookie contracts

Youngsters Oli Carter, Dan Ibrahim and Archie Lenham have all signed rookie contracts at Sussex Cricket.

16-year-old Archie Lenham has burst onto the scene in the T20 Blast
16-year-old Archie Lenham has burst onto the scene in the T20 Blast

Sixteen-year-olds, Ibrahim and Lenham have both made their first team debuts this season, with 19-year-old Carter impressing in the second team and being included in match day squads for Sussex’s Vitality Blast fixtures.

Ibrahim became the youngest player in the history of the County Championship to score a half-century when he made 55 on debut against Yorkshire at Headingley earlier this month.

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Lenham has burst onto the scene in the Vitality Blast, taking 3 for 14 against Hampshire live on Sky Sports and four in total, completing a wonder catch against Surrey and becoming the first player to play in the competition having been born after its inception.

Danial Ibrahim on his Championship debut

Carter scored a sensational 160 against Surrey in the Second XI Championship in May and has been serving as Phil Salt’s wicketkeeping understudy in the Vitality Blast.

Reacting to their deals, Ibrahim said: “I was delighted to sign a rookie contract am thankful to Sussex for giving me this opportunity. Not once I did think it would come this quickly that I would be playing for the Sussex first team.

“I would like to thank all the Bede’s and Sussex coaches who helped me to get here, especially Swifty who has been working on my batting, James Kirtley who has been working hard on my bowling skills and Sals who has been great and given me all the confidence I need. Richard Halsall has also been a great mentor.”

Lenham said: “I was initially shocked to be called up to the Blast squad and then as I walked into the room to sign the rookie contract, I was just so excited.”

Carter said: “I’m really pleased to have signed. It’s a dream come true and I’m looking forward to contributing towards winning games for Sussex.”

Sussex Championship and One-Day Head Coach, Ian Salisbury said: “For a number of years, we’ve identified Dan and Archie as a big part of our plans for the future at Sussex. They haven’t been picked for recent first team matches to make up the numbers, but to perform and they’ve both done exactly that. They fully deserve their contracts and have got bright futures ahead of them. This is just the start.

“Oli came out of the Academy last year and made a decision off his own back to work really hard on his game. He had to navigate strict COVID protocols over the winter which meant he was often coming in for training early in the morning or after hours to avoid mixing with the squad. He has worked extremely hard with the coaching staff, has impressed whenever he has played in the seconds and thoroughly deserves the opportunity he now has as part of the professional squad.”

The club’s T20 Head Coach, James Kirtley added: “It’s great news to see these three players join the squad. They each have so much to offer.

“Oli has shown real perseverance over the last few months and his skills with both the bat and the gloves have improved whilst being around the environment. In recent weeks he has shown real ability to play a finishing role in T20 cricket and his glove work has been very impressive.

“Dan’s fifty on debut was fantastic but it was made all the better by the calmness and the tempo at which he batted. He showed maturity beyond his years. He is more than a handy seamer who possesses good skill and I’m sure his all-round talent will set him up for a bright future.

“As for Archie we have have seen a young player ready to get to grips with the big occasion, as evidenced by his match-winning performance in front of Sky and a ‘worldie’ of a catch to dismiss Jason Roy at The Oval for a duck. Whilst we have all now seen his ability with the ball it is worth remembering his skill with the bat as well.

“All three have bright futures and I’m sure we will continue to see some fine performances from Oli, Dan and Archie. I think it shows the belief and confidence the club has in its young players to have had three 16-year-olds make first team debuts within the last 12 months. The signing of these players is another sign that we are committed to our strategy going forward.”