Jack Carson out to be big a hit at Sussex
Two years ago Jack Carson hit 121 not out in the All-Ireland Cup final. It's always a great achievement to hit a century in a final but this one was something special. Jack Carson was 11-years-old.
The innings took Jack's tally of runs past 600 without being dismissed that season and, as I said in these pages at the time, the first Ireland cricketer born in this millennium could already be known.
Young Jack, who lives and plays his cricket at The Lawn in Waringstown, hasn't looked back and next week heads to Sussex to play for the county's Under-13 side at the annual Blackstone festival.
It was Ireland international Ed Joyce, the Sharks captain, who was alerted through the press of Jack's century and persuaded the Banbridge Academy schoolboy to come over for a trial, as his dad Jimmy explains.
"Ed Joyce contacted Kyle McCallan, the then Waringstown captain, and Ed rang me. He invited Jack over a couple of times in the winter and he played in last summer's festival at Blackstone.
"He got 31 against Abu Dhabi and 49 against Dorset U-13s. Then, in a rain-affected T20 game, he got 19 off 14 balls and they liked that, he was prepared to sacrifice his wicket.
"He consistently batted in the top five for Sussex U-12s and finished as the leading wicket-taker despite not playing all the games. He also had the best economy rate, taking three wickets for five runs in one of the games," said Jimmy, the former Donacloney and Ulster Country representative batsman.
It is hardly surprising that Sussex wanted to keep Jack on their books and the, now, 13-year-old is looking forward to returning next week.
"It's a great opportunity to hopefully score a few runs, take a few wickets and make an impact. There are games against Essex and Surrey. They only play matches every three weeks or so, so it's difficult to get over on a regular basis," says Jack.
The youngster has followed the same path to Hove as the McClintock twins, Gary and William, at Donemana and Craig Young, the Ireland opening bowler who was on Sussex's books for a couple of seasons.
"I've met them all, including Ed. It was really good to see him and it's great that he is scoring so many runs. Hove is a lovely county venue, a really good ground to watch and play."
Jack is a regular on the Waringstown Fourths and gets the occasional game for the Thirds.
"I'm not getting too much batting but taking a few wickets.
"My bowling is coming on. I've really worked on it."
To such an extent that at last week's Under-13 inter-provincial championships in Dublin, Jack took five wickets for six runs against Munster the day before the NCU side defeated Leinster for the first time since 2007 at U-13 level.
They were denied the inter-provincial title on run rate, having lost to North West in the opening match.
Jimmy watched all three games and was impressed.
"Max Burton scored 75 off 62 against Leinster and Jack 47 not out from 43, sharing a 60 runs partnership with his Waringstown team-mate James Humphries. Archie Johnston was also very impressive.
"Harry Warke scored runs against the North West on a green top. And Tom Millar got 25 off 15 balls against Munster.
"But it was very competitive. Jack was captain and Alan Hingston did a great job."
The race is on to see who can make it on to the Ireland team first. Few would disagree that Jack Carson is in pole position.