WORCESTERSHIRE wicketkeeper-batsman Joe Clarke has signed a new three year contract and revealed the county was the ‘perfect platform’ to help him achieve his goal of playing for England.
The 19-year-old still had one year remaining of his current deal but has put pen to paper on a contract through until the end of the 2018 campaign.
Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes predicted last autumn that Clarke – and Ed Barnard – would challenge for a first team spot this summer and that faith has been more than justified.
Clarke earned glowing reports for his performances for South Perth last winter and earned his first team chance after becoming the first Worcestershire player to score two double hundreds for the Second XI with 201 not out against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham College.
Clarke made his LV= County Championship debut against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl in late May and scored his maiden 50 in the next match against Warwickshire at New Road.
He followed that up with 70 against Hampshire at New Road, 88 versus champions and current leaders Yorkshire at Scarborough and 67 in the last match against visiting Nottinghamshire.
Clarke has also appeared in the County’s last three Royal London One-Day Cup matches and followed up 54 against Surrey at the Kia Oval with a superb 131 not out off the Gloucestershire attack at New Road.
“It is really pleasing to get asked to sign a long term contract, I’m absolutely thrilled to be honest,” he said.
“I see Worcestershire as a good place to develop my career. I’ve talked to Moeen (Ali) quite a lot about the route he has gone down with Worcestershire and my aim is to play for England.
“I feel as a youngster there are a lot of opportunities at Worcestershire to play first team cricket.
“It is a massive opportunity in these next three years for me to push myself and become a first team regular, do well and push for international honours in the future.
“Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) has been a massive influence. I’ve a really good relationship with him. We spoke after the Gloucestershire game last week about signing this new contract.
“He’s been really assuring and made it a lot easier for me to have no hesitation in signing. He has helped a lot with my keeping and is good to speak to about my batting as well.
“I see him really improving my cricket in the years to come and help me push towards my aspirations of playing international cricket,” he added.
Rhodes said: “Let’s be honest, we haven’t just thrust Joe into the first team, we made him work for it. He got two double centuries in the second team which is an amazing achievement for a young 19-year-old cricketer.
“He is a bright prospect, a terrific batter, can keep wicket and he is certainly one player for the future I’m sure already the Worcestershire supporters are enjoying watching bat – but they are going to enjoy quite a few more knocks in the future.
“One of the policies we’ve got in place is to try and keep hold of our best young players and he is one of our best young players so I’m delighted he has signed a three year contract,” he added.