Oswestry youngster Xavie Clarke has taken a giant stride towards the cricket big-time by winning selection to the England Under-16 squad to tour Sri Lanka in the new year.
Clarke, a top-order batsman and leg spin bowler, heard the news on Friday that he’d been called up for the English Schools Cricket Association party – and can’t wait to board the plane.
“I was very hopeful after doing so well in the final trial,” said the 16-year-old from Trefonen. “But I was delighted to get an email to say I was definitely in the squad.”
Clarke is also delighted that Jack Haynes, a fellow member of the Worcestershire Satellite Academy, will be the captain for the tour – which takes place from March 23 to April 2.
“It’s great to have someone you know going with you, and Jack and I get on really well,” he said.
Clarke, a regular member of the Oswestry first team in the Birmingham League this year, made 78 in that final trial match for the Midlands and North team against London/East and South West Under-15s at Loughborough.
His selection for that game came after a series of fine displays in the national Bunbury Festival, an annual event organised by philanthropist and cricket fanatic David English which has helped discover many talented cricketers over the past 30 years.
Clarke’s Bunbury performances included a half-century in one of the 50-over games and a quick-fire 46 off 40 balls in one of the Midlands’ T20 victories.
Cricket Shropshire’s Steve Aston, who will manage the squad in Sri Lanka, said he was delighted to see Xavie selected
He said: “Xavie fully deserves his place in the squad following his performances both at the Bunbury Festival and at the Best of Bunbury game. It should be a really good tour for the boys, with one of the games being played at the iconic Test ground in Galle.”
Cricket Shropshire general manager Richard Cox said: “Congratulations to Xavie.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and hopefully serves as an example to all young cricketers in Shropshire of the pathway that is open to them to play the game at the highest level.”
Clarke’s top score for Oswestry this year was 93 at Stourbridge, and he has also chipped in with some useful wickets.
Xavie is not the only member of his family to be playing cricket overseas this winter.
His 20-year-old brother Joe, already an established member of the Worcestershire first team, will be in the England Lions party for games against the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan in Dubai next month.