Worcestershire Academy product, Harry Darley, has signed his first professional rookie contract for the 2024 season and is determined to give himself the best possible opportunity to eventually challenge for a first team spot.
The 19-year-old pace bowler made positive strides forward last summer, playing a key part in the Academy’s Under-18 County Championship triumph with 21 wickets in five matches.
He also experienced a significant amount of Seconds cricket in which he confirmed his promise before earning a senior call-up for the T20 match against New Zealand at a packed New Road.
It was a memorable occasion for Darley who picked up two wickets, dismissing opener Chad Bowes and also Rachin Ravindra, a double century-maker against Worcestershire for Durham during the 2022 season.
He also impressed with three wickets when earlier selected for the Metro Bank One Day Cup warm-up game against Shropshire at Shrewsbury for whom he plays Birmingham and District Premier League cricket.
Shrewsbury-born Darley believes he is already reaping the benefits from working on a regular basis with Head Coach, Alan Richardson, and Assistant Coach, Richard Jones.
He said: “To get that first contract means a lot. Over the last couple of years it’s been quite quick for me going up the ranks from Shropshire, to getting involved and then enrolled with the Academy at Worcestershire, and playing quite a lot of second team cricket, a big step up.
“The last few weeks training with the lads has been really good and I’ve enjoyed every minute being with Worcestershire, with the Academy and now the first team squad.
“To train regular with the pros and coaches is massive. You are training virtually every day of the week, working on technique and you just know you can get better from training every single day.
“Everything is a lot more intense, which is good, and it helps when it comes to the season with everything.
“Richo and Jonesy are a big help, very supportive, and you can always go to them for advice and ask them about what to work on.
“It is so helpful to pick up information from them and the other lads like Gibbo, Waitey, Leachy. Talking to them is big as well as some of them have got a lot of experience of playing first class cricket.
“Main goal for 2024? “A lot of second team cricket, especially the four day stuff, and even white ball cricket.
“I want to try and push myself as much as I can, perform as well as I can, and give myself a chance to get into that first team.”
Darley admitted: “Playing against New Zealand, I was really nervous. I didn’t know if I was going to be in the team or just part of the squad.
“Once I was chosen in the 12 to play, the nerves started kicking in a bit more and a packed New Road made it even more nervous.
“But once I got into it and was playing, I didn’t really think about it too much and it was a good experience to have. I will never forget the two wickets and my mum and dad and everyone have been watching them ever since!”
Head Coach, Alan Richardson, said: “Harry was one of a good crop of Academy players and I think he had an outstanding season in terms of the way he performed for the Academy, Shrewsbury and the Seconds.
“Whatever standard we put him at last year, he seemed to do well and he keeps things really simple, which is a real skill in itself.
“He bowled well against Shropshire and then against New Zealand in a big game for him.
“Harry has impressed. There is a bit of a ceiling there which is exciting for us to try and reach