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Tuesday, 02 June 2015

Graeme set sights on first-class career

PLAYING for his employers earned a Hexham man a dream professional cricket contract.

One-year deal: Graeme Cessford impressed while on duty for the RAF.

Graeme Cessford (29) caught the eye playing for the Royal Air Force in an inter-forces competition at Lord’s and has been snapped up by Worcestershire Cricket Club.

The Pears, as they are known to their fans, obviously liked what they saw and he has signed a one-year contract, with the view to extend, all being well.

For the past two years, pace bowler Cessford has been named player of the tournament as he spearheaded the RAF to the inter-services championship over foes the Army and the Navy.

While playing in the latest competition he impressed the professionals, and was invited initially by Middlesex for a trial match.

However, that did not work out for him, but an offer from Worcestershire transpired and he snapped the hands off the club to put his name to paper.

He has been given a year off from the RAF to concentrate on his cricket, and he is looking forward to the forthcoming season.

The former Tynedale player said: “This is a dream and something I have always wanted to do. It is an opportunity to prove what I can do and we will see what happens.

“The aim is to play first team cricket, and I ultimately want to play for England. But I will be taking it one step at a time!”

Cessford has been selected for the RAF team for three years, but ruptured three ligaments and dislocated a tendon in his ankle in the first game.

However, he bounced back and starred the following year, claiming 1-14 in one of the two games to be named as star man.

This year, he eclipsed his previous best by finishing with bowling figures of 4-20 from his eight overs while scoring 56 runs off 27 balls.

He said: “It was great to get man of the match twice playing in front of big crowds of 4,000 people in a fantastic venue.

“It gave me a real taste of what is to come and hopefully I will be able to get plenty of more experiences like it.”

The former Queen Elizabeth High School student grew up playing cricket at his home town club of Tynedale, right up until the age of 18.

He moved to North East Premier League side Gateshead before heading to rivals Chester-le-Street in 2006, and he has continued to play there despite joining the RAF two years later.

He had never give up hope of making the big time despite numerous setbacks, and he cannot wait to get into the thick of the action.

“I always thought I was good enough but I never really got the opportunity, and I had a few injuries when I was younger.

“Worcestershire are fantastic and such a friendly club, and I have been in doing some winter training.

“It is a big step up from what I’m used to and it is more intense, playing six to seven times a week, and playing four-day games and T20 games etc means it is non-stop.

“It will be hard and a big challenge but I am looking forward to it and I can’t wait for the season to start.”