Record-breaking Perse cricketer clinches Essex academy place
25 Sep 2018
Nikhil Gorantla (Year 11) has described selection for the Graham Gooch Essex Cricket Academy as “the proudest moment of my life”.
Being signed for the county’s youth programme caps an outstanding season for the talented Perse cricketer, who also became the youngest player to appear for Cambridgeshire in the Unicorns Championship at the age of just 15 years and 73 days.
Nikhil was thrilled to have been given the opportunity by Essex after an impressive performance during an Emerging Player Programme camp at Framlingham College, where he played trial matches across all three formats of the game. If Nikhil needed to show further proof of his potential, he did just that, by hitting a half-century on his Cambs debut against Suffolk while being watched by Essex talent pathway manager Tom Huggins.
He said: “It was the proudest moment of my life when I heard I’d been picked for the Essex academy. I feel as if I’ve proved how I can adapt my game to different formats.
“Short-term, I want to prove myself in the academy and show I’m good enough to be there and one day hopefully I can play for the Essex first team and then England. That would be my dream. I beat Tom Westley’s record of being the youngest player to play for Cambridgeshire and he went to play for England, so maybe one day, you never know.”
That experience of playing senior cricket for Cambridgeshire also gave Nikhil great pride, despite having played club cricket with adults since the age of 11.
Nikhil, who has played for the Perse 1st XI since Year 9, said: “The whole thing was surreal and very last minute as I got a call-up on the morning of the match. I’d been planning to meet some school friends as I hadn’t seen any of them the whole summer because I’d played so much cricket, but I couldn’t believe the opportunity I was given.
“I went in to bat at No 5 and Cambridgeshire were in trouble at 42 for 3, chasing 232. My initial thoughts were to hang in there as much as possible, build partnerships and give senior players strike as much as possible. Once I got my eye in, I started playing my natural strokes. At that level it is not easy to get runs and I had to work very hard.
“In the end, we managed to build over 100 runs in a partnership for the fifth wicket, out of which I was lucky to get 53 with 10 fours. In the second innings, I managed to help build a partnership of over 60 runs for the fifth wicket.
“At the end of the match when I came to know I was the youngest player to represent Cambridgeshire, the feeling was incredible.”