WHILST his schoolmates are turning their attentions to further education or the beginning of their working lives, Tom Alsop is coming to terms with the start of life as a professional cricketer.

The 18-year-old, from Rowde, celebrated his first-class debut for Hampshire with a knock of 53 and an unbeaten 39 in a friendly clash with Cardiff MCCU last week.

The John Bentley School pupil had his graduation from Hampshire’s academy rubber-stamped, earning a two-year development contract at the Ageas Bowl.

Wicketkeeper/batsman Alsop, whose first taste of first-team cricket came in a YB40 match against Lancashire last year, has impressed for the second string this season and reckons his impressive 150 against a strong Surrey 2nd XI last month was the final push he needed to clinch his contract.

“I’m pinching myself at the moment really because it feels like I’ve achieved what I set out to do in my short cricketing career already,” said Alsop.

“Everyone else at school is thinking about going away to university or getting a job but I’m going to be moving down to Southampton on June 1 to start playing full-time.

“I was aiming to try and get a contract this year but they usually don’t get given out until the end of the summer, so I’m pretty lucky to have got one already.

“I played in a 2nd XI game against Surrey and they pretty much played their first team. I was proud of getting 150 against players like (Chris) Tremlett and (Gareth) Batty and not long after that, I got called in to Giles White’s (Hampshire coach) office.

“He said that it was really impressive and that they were offering me a contract.”

Potterne CC youngster Alsop, whose older brother Owen also came through the academy set-up at the Ageas Bowl, is currently studying for his A-levels, but has also set his sights on graduating to Hampshire’s first team on permanent basis.

Alsop said: “The game against Cardiff went well – I think that any batsman is happy when they’re not out.

“The aim is to now push to get in to the first team.

“If I can try and average 40 or 50 in second XI games for the rest of the season, then hopefully I can push for a place in the first team.”