World Cup and county de­but now tar­get for emerg­ing star

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE - will jacks

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.”

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