Surrey’s Will Jacks says that making a maiden first-class hundred puts a tick in one of the boxes on his wish-list for 2019
The 20-year-old compiled a 194-ball 120, batting at seven and sharing in a sixth-wicket stand of 175 with Scott Borthwick, to rescue his side on the opening day of the County Championship clash with Kent at Beckenham.
Borthwick fell five short of a ton, but Jacks then joined forces with Rikki Clarke, who went on to make 88.
With Surrey posting 439, it was almost a case of what might have been given the visitors’ disastrous start, which saw them 65-5 at one stage.
“Scoring a championship hundred was something I really wanted to tick off this season,” said Jacks, who also has the target of scoring two white-ball hundreds this summer.
“It was really pleasing to achieve that, even more so for us to get through to stumps with 400 on the board having been five down after the opening hour.
“I was really happy for myself, Badger [Scott Borthwick] and Rikki Clarke too. I just had to get through that first period before lunch and after that it got a bit easier as their bowlers tired. I just took it over by over with the hope we could bat as deep as possible.
“Every time you go out to bat against a new ball it’s going to nip around. You know that’s a given. Sometimes you play and miss, other times you nick it. That’s cricket, so I had my little bit of luck.”
It was an innings reminiscent of those Ollie Pope was playing for Surrey this time last year. Were it not for Pope’s shoulder injury – which is likely to sideline him for most of the season – it is debatable whether Jacks would be getting the nod in the County Championship.
Last summer, Pope went from being a 20-year-old with a handful of first-class matches under his belt to a Test cricketer in a matter of weeks. In his absence, Jacks is determined to write his own history.
“When you watch guys come through it really helps to motivate you,” said Jacks.
“The year above me there are five – Sam Curran, Conor McKerr, Ryan Patel, Ollie Pope and Amar Virdi.
“How many times have five guys come through an academy and into a professional team? That’s the club philosophy now, putting time into youth. Look at Popey. Things can happen really quickly.
“My big idol is Kevin Pietersen. He played for Surrey and for England. I’ve not tried to mould my game around him, but he’s someone I’ve always liked watching.”
Jacks has made his name as a stroke-maker. It is believed he holds the record for the fastest century in a match between two professional sides – a 25-ball hundred in a 10-over game against Lancashire in March, out in Dubai.
During that innings he also launched Stephen Parry’s slow left-arm spin for six sixes in an over.
“I knew that no-one had ever scored a T10 hundred before,” said Jacks. “So, I thought I’d go out there and have a bit of fun.
“From the first ball I just tried to play my shots. I didn’t really think about it until I got really close and it all happened very quickly.
“As it was happening I thought: ‘It’s just a warm-up game, a T10, no-one is going to care’, but then I looked at my phone. There were so many messages – it was all over Twitter and then I realised it was something quite big.
“My intention was to hit every ball for six. Even after four sixes in that over, I didn’t think I could hit six sixes. But it was nice to do it and something I’ll cherish, as it’s not something I’d ever done before.”
That followed playing First Grade cricket for Perth University, out in Australia – where Jacks also impressed, hitting 400 runs at an average of 57.14, including 205 against Claremont-Nedlands.
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