Stuart Whittingham has described his shock Sussex debut as an ‘unbelievable experience’ - but knows he is in for a battle to keep his place.
The 22-year-old seam bowler grabbed three wickets in last week’s County Championship Division 2 match against Derbyshire.
The hard work has paid off for the Horsham-based youngster and he is up for the tough challenge of trying to keep his place in a promising Sussex bowling attack.
The former Christ’s Hospital student came up through the junior ranks at Roffey, who he won the Sussex Cricket League with last season. He played for the Sussex 2nd XI last year and hoped to make his full first-class debut this season having worked towards it for 12 years.
Whittingham said: “I only found out an hour before we were due to play that I was actually playing, so I did not have it on my radar that I was going to play.
“Davo (Mark Davis) said and hour before, ‘you are playing’ so I did not have much time to think about it all.
“It was an unbelievable experience and to be fair, something that I have been working for since the age of ten when I was in the Sussex under-10s.
“I knew what I wanted to do and my goal was to play first-class cricket for Sussex.
“I knew we only had a small number of bowlers so I knew I had a chance to play. I did not think it would be as early on as this. I thought I’d be trying to put performances in with the second team
“I said to myself at the start of the season, that I wanted to keep performing with the second team, then if someone picks up a niggle or an injury, I would be the first one they would come to.”
Whittingham is well aware he faces a battle to keep his place in the County Championship side this season despite taking another three wickets this week against Worcestershire.
He revealed: “It’s going to be pretty tough as we have Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Jordan to come back into the team and it’ll be hard to displace one of those players.
“I will keep doing what I can and try to help the team. If I go back down to the seconds, I’ll keep trying to take wickets and keep myself in the hat.”
The former Scotland under-19 penned a junior professional contract with Sussex in November and seems to be one of a number of youngsters that has caught the eye of Mark Davis.
Whittingham added: “It’s really good that you have someone that backs you and is willing to give you a chance, it gives you confidence.
“Everyone is so supportive, the older bowlers help you out and it’s nice having Maggs (Steve Magoffin), who has played 16 or 17 years of first class cricket giving advice and support. Having a coach like Jon Lewis who took 800 first-class wickets is also great, having him back you up and support you.”
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