by Sam Blackledge
A hotly-tipped Plymouth cricketer says signing his first professional contract with Nottinghamshire is the best feeling ever.
Ben Kitt, aged 21, took 101 wickets in 2nd XI and academy games for his adopted county this summer, and has been rewarded with a two-year deal.
The fast bowler started playing for Tideford under-11s when he was just five, progressing to first team men’s cricket with St Austell and then Cornwall.
The former Saltash.net pupil moved to Nottingham at the age of 16 and has impressed the Trent Bridge coaching team ever since.
Speaking to The Herald from New Zealand, where he is spending the winter playing for Auckland University, Ben said he was delighted to put pen to paper.
“From the age of five when I first started playing cricket it’s all I have wanted, so I can’t imagine there is any better feeling than signing for two years at a club I love,” he said.
Ben Kitt played for Cornwall as a teenager
Ben was named young player of the season last month – but says making the transition from academy to second team cricket was a steep learning curve.
“It was a big step up,” he said.
“Obviously the margin for error I’d had through all of my age group cricket disappeared because of the standard of batting, and also the bowling was a lot faster and shot selection became a lot more important.
“But the more second team cricket you play you learn players’ weaknesses and learn to bowl to your strengths.
“Also a lot of technical work in those first couple of years helped with my accuracy a lot and added a bit of pace.”
He makes no secret of his ambitions, having already set his sights on international honours.
“Obviously to start with I would like to cement a first team spot,” he said.
“That has to come first, but like any cricketer in the country I want to represent England in all forms if I can.
“Again that’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was very young and I still want to do it now.”
As a youngster Ben looked up to former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff – and it wasn’t just Freddie’s on-field exploits which caught his eye.
“I loved everything about the way he played cricket, he was aggressive and skilled,” he said.
“He also enjoyed himself off the pitch which may have given him a bad reputation, but I feel that was undeserved.”
Ben was named Nottinghamshire’s young player of the year last month
There is no shortage of fast bowling heroes for Ben to emulate at Trent Bridge, from Clive Rice and Richard Hadlee to Harry Gurney and Stuart Broad.
The recent rise of Jake Ball, who made his Test bow this summer and took five wickets on ODI debut earlier this month, has inspired Ben even further.
“I love to watch Jake bowl,” he said.
“I think I am similar to him in the way I bowl and to see how far he has come in a couple of years is amazing. I’d love to do the same thing.”
A devoted Plymouth Argyle fan who grew up on the banks of the Tamar in Saltash, Ben says the South West will always have a special place in his heart.
“The support us Cornish lads get from the people in the two counties is amazing,” he said.
“Speak to Jake Libby and Liam Norwell and they will tell you the same thing.
“All of my family are down in Cornwall still, it’s the place where I learned to play cricket, starting with my grandad in the back garden.
“It means a lot to me and I love being down to visit.”