Will Sheffield has become the first boy from the Aldridge Cricket Academy (ACA) to be accepted into Sussex Cricket’s Academy.
The 17 year-old student is in his final year at the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) where he combines his academic studies with an intensive cricket development programme.
Having previously featured in Sussex district and area teams, it was not until 2017 that the left-arm seam bowler was selected for a full-county age group squad after working on his game at ACA.
Will then played an important role in the Sussex Under-17 side that shared the ECB's national three-day title, averaging just 14 with the ball and scoring crucial late-order runs, including 76 not out in the final against Northamptonshire.
His consistent performances and continued development have earned him a place in the 2018 intake for Sussex’s prestigious Academy that has produced a number of professional cricketers for the county since its inception in 2001.
Will follows in the footsteps of former Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) student, Tara Norris, who was the first ACA girl to be accepted into the Sussex Academy ahead of the 2016 season.
Sussex Cricket’s Academy Director, Carl Hopkinson, said: “Will has worked extremely hard at the Aldridge Cricket Academy over the past 18 months and richly deserves his place on our own Academy programme.
“His inclusion in the 2018 intake shows that the close links between Sussex and Aldridge are paying dividends.
“I’m sure Will and Tara are the first of many Aldridge boys and girls who will go on to form part of the Sussex Academy in the years to come.”
Director of Cricket for Brighton & Portslade Aldridge Community Academies, Alexia Walker added: “We are delighted that Will's hard work has paid off with the opportunity to be part of the Sussex Academy.
“He has worked extremely hard on all aspects of his game since starting at the Aldridge Cricket Academy. Not only is he an exciting prospect with the ball but on our tour to Dubai last winter he also starred with the bat to win a tight game at the Zayed Academy.
“I am sure he will thrive in the fantastic Sussex Academy environment and we are all looking to forward to seeing how he gets on in the next step in his cricket career”.
Will and Tara’s progress is a product of the close cooperation between Sussex Cricket and the Aldridge Foundation - the organisation founded by Sir Rod Aldridge in 2006 to create better opportunities and inspiring experiences for young people.
The Aldridge Foundation sponsors Sussex Cricket’s boys and girls junior and Academy squads and Sussex Women, with the state-of-the-art Sir Rod Aldridge Cricket Centre at BACA’s Falmer campus home to Sussex’s girls and women’s sides.
Will and the rest of the Sussex Academy boys will benefit this winter from the use of BACA’s 3G football pitch, allowing them to work outdoors on their fielding and fitness.
Sussex Cricket also share expertise with ACA on all aspects of cricket from coaching to groundskeeping, including sharing a strength and conditioning coach.
The full Sussex Boys Academy intake for 2018 will be announced later this week, with the Girls Academy and EPP squads following in due course.