World Cup and county debut now target for emerging star
Will Jacks has not made his first-team debut for Surrey, but his form in the England agegroups is already an indication that they have a star on their hands.
The tall all-rounder, 18, was this month handed his first professional contract on the back of some fine showings for Surrey 2nd XI and the England U19s.
He was one of the few to emerge with credit from disappointing youth ‘Test’ and ODI series this summer both won convincingly by their Indian counterparts.
Jacks hit a fine century in the second of the two ‘Tests’ and led England in the first ODI but he has had to bide his time with Surrey, although he was England’s 12th man in the ODI series against the West Indies.
“When I was younger it was always the dream to play professionally,” he said. “But it wasn’t until recently when it started to get more serious and I thought it was possible.
“When I moved from U14 to U15 I made a big change – really from an average player to a good one.
“Really it was a move up the order in one-day cricket, that was important. I’m quite a powerful ball striker and so it made sense to get me involved earlier in the game and make the most of the powerplays.”
A tall powerful middle order hitter who can move up the order in one-day cricket? That might sound familiar to Surrey fans who have been treated to the heroics of Kevin Pietersen and Jason Roy.
Indeed, Jacks namechecks both as heroes, but even more impressively, he has another skill, his ever-improving off spin.
“Seeing someone like Jason, who came through the academy and then has gone on to England. That does give you confidence,” added Jacks, 19 next month.
“Surrey are big on promoting youngsters and pushing us on to the next level and my off spin is improving. In the modern game you need as many strings to your bow.
“I used to be a medium pacer but I changed when I was 14. It was only last winter and this summer, though, that I was used a lot as a bowling option.”
Breaking into the Surrey first team is on the agenda for next summer, but before that there is the small matter of the U19 World Cup in New Zealand in January.
Jacks looks a nearcertainty to feature, even though next month they head out to Potchefstroom to play a Tri-Series against Namibia and South Africa with the squad undecided.
But after the summer’s Indian drubbing, Jacks hopes the squad are ready this time around.
“We were taught a lesson by India. They just keep it very simple and didn’t even look like they were trying to score runs,” he added.
“Whereas we were very much, block after block, then look to score with a big shot. They were very good at getting that tempo right throughout their innings.
“It’s a bit of a trial first before Christmas, of course it is, but we are training to win those games. The team always comes first and the World Cup is the end goal.”