TOM Alsop is flying the flag for Wiltshire after being called up to the England U19’s tour of South Africa at the last minute.
The 17-year-old Hampshire Academy batsman, from Rowde, has been part of the ECB’s Elite Player Development squad for over a year and was due to travel to the southern hemisphere with the England U17 party in February.
But after U19 captain Shiv Thakor was ruled out with a broken finger, Alsop was promoted as a late replacement and jetted off to South Africa last weekend.
The England youngsters were due to finish the first of two Youth Test matches against South Africa’s U19s today and will also be taking on their hosts in one day meetings in Paarl, Cape Town and Stellenbosch.
Speaking before his late call-up, Alsop said: “It’s my first time going abroad with sport and I’m really excited to be doing it because it’s going to be a great experience.
“If I can impress with the U19s, then I’ve got a great chance in being involved in their games at the end of the summer.”
Alsop is the first Wiltshire player to represent England at U19 level since Calne’s Liam Dawson (Goatacre) and Steeple Ashton’s James Vince (Chippenham).
Before joining the youth set-up at the Ageas Bowl, John Bentley School pupil Alsop, whose older brother Owen is also with Hampshire, graduated through the Wiltshire Cricket Academy.
Ed Davies, chairman of Bishops Cannings Cricket Club, said: “It’s extraordinary that somebody of just 17 is out with the England U19s squad and it’s a very proud moment for our club.
“Tom still plays for us occasionally and has been involved with Potterne CC, who we are closely linked with. His dad Phil is still on the committee with us. He’s a bit like a surrogate son to me, so it’s fantastic news.
Meanwhile, the 12-strong 2013 Wiltshire Academy squad fly out to Dubai on February 10 for their annual tour.
The side, captained by Corsham’s Toby Davies, will take on a host of local sides, culminating in a match at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, where England took on Pakistan last year, on February 17.