Rising star continues juggling act

Will Sutherland claimed a slice of history with his Victorian debut on Thursday, but he's set to return to school next week

Victoria youngster Will Sutherland was bowling at the death on Thursday and by Monday he’ll be back at school as he juggles cricket commitments in the early stages of his promising domestic career.

At 17 years and 350 days, Sutherland became Victoria’s youngest List A debutant ever, taking the mantle off Cameron White, the player he replaced in the starting XI after the veteran was ruled out with injury.

In an absolute run-fest at North Sydney Oval, the seam-bowling allrounder started with 0-7 from three overs before finishing with 1-56 from eight.

His maiden wicket was that of Alex Ross, the in-form Redbacks middle-order batsman who was bowled by Sutherland for 33 in the 45th over.

With Victoria missing a host of star players to national duties, Sutherland was given a crack in the Bushrangers JLT One-Day Cup squad in what’s a testing time for any teenager in their final year of study.

“I think he’s got recovery day tomorrow, he might be back in the books,” Victoria coach Andrew McDonald said after the 11-run loss to South Australia. 

“He’s got a pretty pivotal time in his life coming up so we weren’t able to have him for the whole tournament, which we may have considered because of his skill set, but he’s balancing both and because it’s just a short stint he took a couple of days of school to play this one.

“We’ve got a game on Sunday as well so he should be back at school on Monday, so that’ll be good.”

Match Highlights: South Australia v Victoria

Sutherland’s elevation is no surprise given his success at under-age level for his country, where he captained his Australia’s Under-19 side earlier this year against Sri Lanka in Hobart.

A gifted athlete in both cricket and Australian Rules football, the youngster decided to follow in his father’s footsteps – former Bushrangers quick and current CA chief executive James – and pursue a cricket career.

Sutherland juggling cricket and exams

His next goal will be to play in the JLT Sheffield Shield, but he may have to bide his time given the strength of Victoria’s first-class team that’s won the past three titles.

“He’ll have to have some performances to be able to force his way in there but I do think he’s good enough in time,” McDonald said.

“But let’s not rush things. He’s 17 years of age and Shield cricket is a very good competition. 

“We’ll look for him to play a bit of second XI cricket after the exams and get his feet under the desk so to speak and put some performances on the board and like anyone else push his case.”