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Rawlins to focus efforts on England

No Cup Match: Rawlins, centre, has ruled out playing cricket in Bermuda this summer (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Delray Rawlins has ruled out playing any cricket in Bermuda this summer and will stay in Sussex chasing his dream of earning a place in the England Under-19 squad.

The Bermuda Under-19 captain has been invited to join the England development programme with the possibility of selection for England later this year.

It is what the talented all-rounder has been working towards since travelling to England to develop his cricket at Bedes Senior School, and last year in the Sussex County Cricket Club Academy.

Rawlins’s progress has not gone unnoticed by England coaches and this week he received an invitation from the England and Wales Cricket Board to be on their development programme long list.

Last season Rawlins was named in a regional representative side in England, one of three Sussex players chosen to represent London and East in the ECB’s Under-17 Super 4 competition at the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough University.

“Playing for England has been an aspiration of mine for some time now,” Rawlins said. “It is something that I wanted to do once I understood how I was able to qualify, and once I was given the opportunity to be a part of the academy at Sussex.

“Also with the opportunity to travel to Loughborough and play in the Super 4s Tournament [last year] this is where the aspiration to play for England grew. After speaking with a few of the England coaches, and hearing the feedback they had on my week I felt I did my chances no harm with the cricket I played up at Loughborough.”

Rawlins has had a good start to the new season, producing half-centuries in five of his school’s matches. Coaches from the England development programme have him on their radar and will continue to monitor his progress this summer.

“My season so far has taken off very positively in terms of school cricket, with scores over 50 in five games and only failing to do so in one match,” Rawlins said. “But as a team we won so I was pleased with the way the boys played and fought in that match.

“I’ve been batting at [number] one in Twenty20 matches, and than in longer games I’ve been batting three or four. I’ve been enjoying this as I feel batting in and around the top of the order suits my game and brings the best out of my game.”

Rawlins added: “In terms of bowling, I think I’m correct in saying I’m joint top wicket-taker in my school’s first team at the minute with nine or ten [wickets]. I’ve yet to turn out for any Sussex eleven as school matches have come thick and fast. However, I am really enjoying the atmosphere in school cricket and the boys are performing really well.”

Rawlins, who made his Cup Match debut for St George’s two years ago at the age of 16, admitted he is likely to miss playing cricket in Bermuda this summer in order to pursue opportunities in England. The left-handed batsman and slow left-arm bowler is eligible to play for Bailey’s Bay in the Eastern Counties this summer.

“Returning to Bermuda is always a thought in the back of my head as it is my home, it is where my family are,” Rawlins said.

“However, with the opportunity that I have on this side of the pond I think for my game it would be best for me to continue over here for the summer, and not miss any opportunities that could potentially come my way, whether that is with Sussex or any England programme.

“Playing Eastern Counties would be something special, however I feel I’m making the right decision to miss it, and I hope none of the Bailey’s Bay boys knock me for doing so. I do feel as I am very young that there could potentially be an opportunity later on to play, but I think right here, right now, I’m better off missing it.”

Travelling to Australia to play during the winter was also something Rawlins was considering. However, that may also be put on hold for now.

“Australia was a thought, however at the minute it doesn’t look like that is going to happen as I’ve got a winter commitment with Sussex,” he said. “Or, I could potentially have a winter commitment with England if everything goes to plan.”