Priory ace earns place at SA academy
ONE of the stars of Hastings Priory's mixed 2004 cricketing campaign has earned a unique career opportunity.
Jon Hancock, who sprung to the attention of cricketing followers by blasting a match-turning half-century in Priory's dramatic final ball defeat of Lashings All-Stars in July, has landed a coveted place at a top rung academy in South Africa.
The 18-year-old, recently named Hastings Priory's All-rounder of the Year, will spend seven weeks at the Gap Sports International Cricket Academy in Port Elizabeth from mid-January where he will be guided through all facets of the game, even going as far as psychology and nutrition.
"I can't wait," said the former William Parker Sports College student. "They've got ex-professionals coaching there and they're saying it's helping people reach their next level. It's absolutely critical for my development. I was pleased with how I played last season but I want to try and improve next year and see if I can get into a county set-up."
Hancock, whose top score after breaking into Priory's front side early last season is 67 against East Grinstead, also has a confirmed place to study sport science at University College Worcester from September 2005 where he intends to apply for a cricketing scholarship (the university has initiated a special partnership between itself and Worcestershire County Cricket Club).
With help from Priory, gap year student Hancock gained the English Cricket Board's level one coaching award which he used to help coach the club's colt players during the summer.
Priory chairman and William Parker assistant headteacher (sport and community) Ian Gillespie wrote in a statement: "Jon is a young cricketer of great potential. He is an excellent young man who has been a real credit to the school."
The lone negative surrounds the cost of this dream venture which Hancock estimates to be in excess of 3,000. He has financed much of it through personal savings and the "brilliance" of William Parker but "would be grateful for anything" to make up the balance.