TALENTED teenage cricketer Stuart Whittingham hopes his selection to the Sussex CC Academy will be the first rung on the ladder towards his dream of becoming a professional.
The opening bowler is one of ten other young stars named in the Academy’s intake for the 2012 season after a successful two-month audition before Christmas.
Five of those, including Whittingham, are new to the setup, and having made the grade the 17 year old is determined to make the most of his chance.
“I’m delighted and it’s just really exciting,” said the 6ft 1inch fast bowler. “It’s come after a two month audition where I just thought if I work hard and do my best I’ll have a chance.
“It’s my first time in the Academy so it’s all very new and exciting and it means I have a lot of cricket to look forward to in the season ahead.”
Whittingham has already begun training sessions with Sussex, and had the chance to bowl at the club’s professionals in a warm-up before the first team flew to Antigua for the current Caribbean T20 tournament.
His call-up is reward for an eye-catching 2011, where his 42 wickets for his Christ’s Hospital School team was the highest for any independent school in the country.
He also finished as his school’s highest run-scorer, and despite an injury finished the season strongly for his club side Roffey in their maiden bow in the Sussex Premier.
He will again play for his school side on Saturdays for the first half of the season and then Roffey for the second half, while turning out for the Academy on Sundays and juggling a busy training schedule.
And having achieved his first major milestone the teenager already has his sights on progressing through the county ranks.
He said: “I think my main targets are to take as many wickets as I can for the Academy and for Roffey but another goal of mine is to break into the Sussex Seconds.
“If I do well enough hopefully I’ve got a chance. Becoming a pro is the end goal but as the Sussex coaches said we’re only at the start and there’s a long way to go so I’m going to just stay positive and enjoy every moment.”