New Milton teenager Raff Hussey will join ECB Southern Premier League club South Wilts when he returns from a cricketing gap year winter in Australia next month.
The 18-year old has spent the past five months at Darren Lehmann high performance Cricket Academy in Adelaide and understandably wants to play the best standard possible this summer.
“It’s a wrench leaving New Milton, where I’ve playing since I was six years of age, but my aim when I went to the Cricket Academy was to improve my game mentally, physically and tactically to become a better all-round player,” he explained.
“A winter abroad has hopefully been great for character building and it’s important now I move on, continue to play Premier Division cricket and on the best surfaces against the best players.”
Alongside Tom Arnold, who has also announced his intention to leave the Fernhill club, Hussey was New Milton’s stand out player in a miserable 2018 relegation season for the Green & Golds.
He made 357 runs, with top scores against Havant (70), champions St Cross Symondians (66) and runners-up Burridge (55).
South Wilts didn’t waste any time securing Hussey’s signature when he contacted them.
“Raff batted well against us in a low scoring game at New Milton last summer,” recalled Tom Morton, South Wilts’ player/coach.
“He has a good attitude and is keen to progress. We have a good record of progressing young players so it should be a good fit.
“He made contact with us whilst playing in Adelaide. I’ve been keeping an eye on his progress and I am sure he is having a great experience.
“It’s an exciting time for South Wilts with many developing players in their early 20’s. We still have plenty of work to do to be as strong as we would like to be, but with the commitment we have had from the players over the last five or six years we are confident their is plenty of opportunity for growth.”
Hussey says it’s been a demanding winter at Lehmann’s Academy, not only physically but also mentally.
He explained: “Day to day I’ll spend normally three hours training in the morning with the academy, usually split up into either a net for two hours and gym or conditioning - which amounts to horrible sweaty running- or a shorter net so we can do fielding sessions.
“We’ve been doing the hard yards with our Strength & Conditioning coach, doing running in the blistering heat, a lot of it on the beach. Believe me I sleep well at nights!”
That’s in addition to club training with his adopted West End Premiership club Port Adelaide, where Hussey trains twice weekly, on top of playing matches, often on both days over a weekend in sweltering hot conditions.
The South Wilts bound batsman hasn’t been given much opportunity to show off his batting skills playing Second Grade for Port Adelaide.
“I’ve been batting low down at nine and ten, so the only time I get a hit is at the end of the innings – but I have enhanced my bowling skills and have taken seven wickets, three in one game,” he smiled.
“I never got to bowl much for New Milton, but it’s another string to my bow when I join South Wilts in the summer.”
Hussey left Arnewood School with glowing A* A-levels and begins a three-year Sport & Exercise Science course at Loughborough University this autumn.
He will spend another seven weeks in South Australia before flying home, linking up with the Salisbury club when they begin their early season friendly matches in mid-April.
“Joining South Wilts gives me the incentive to give Wiltshire a crack too. I want to have a good season to put myself in the showcase for Loughborough MCCU next year, but that’s a long way off yet and I need to make my mark at Bemerton before getting too far ahead of myself.”