TALENTED Oxfordshire teenager Julian Laird has been awarded a place on Sussex Cricket Club’s academy for 2023/24.

The 16-year-old left-hand batter and left-arm finger spin bowler will join fellow Oxfordshire player Dylan Driscoll on the Sussex academy, with Driscoll awarded a place back in 2021.

The news on Laird is the latest exciting development in the partnership between Oxfordshire and Sussex, which dates back to 2013.

Zach Lion-Cachet recently signed a rookie contract, while James Coles and Harrison Ward are professional players at Sussex, having emerged at Oxfordshire.

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Last season, Laird played the majority of his county age group cricket with Sussex Under-18s, alongside fixtures for Oxfordshire Under-16s and the men’s development XI.

He had a successful summer representing Sussex, amassing 289 runs, including three half-centuries at the top of the batting order against Hampshire, Middlesex and Essex.

Laird told Oxfordshire Cricket’s YouTube channel: “I’ve got my whole support network through the coaches, and it was really nice to play with the Under-18s last year, and get to know them all.

“It’s very nice to have some familiar faces down there. It’s a nice way to settle into the team and start my journey off.”

Praising the Oxfordshire set-up, he added: “There’s lovely people, lovely coaches, and a lovely atmosphere around the place.

“We created lots of memorable moments, with some tour wins, which have been really nice.”

Laird was involved in the successful Oxfordshire age group squads that won the King’s College Festival (2018) and the Shrewsbury School Cricket Festival (2019) at the Under-11 and Under-12 age groups respectively.

Oxfordshire Cricket performance director Matthew Barnes said: “We are really pleased that Julian will be making the transition from our Emerging Players Programme on to the academy with our first class partners, Sussex Cricket.

“I am certain that both Julian and his family will be proud of his academy selection and he now has a wonderful opportunity to accelerate his potential within the game.

“Julian has been within our talent development system since an early age and on behalf of everyone at Oxfordshire Cricket, I take the opportunity to wish him the best of luck with the next step in his development journey.”

Sussex Cricket’s director of pathways and cricket partnerships, Keith Greenfield, added: “Since the first time we saw Julian bat, you could see his potential, and he has everything you need to go a long way in the game.

“He plays in a stylish way and we look forward to continuing our work with him on our academy programme, both up at Magdalen College within the Oxfordshire sessions, and here at Hove.”