Following on: Austin Waugh, son of Steve, made a one-day ton at the under-17 championships. Photo: Brody Grogan Pedigree: Steve Waugh with Austin during the former Test skipper’s playing days. Photo: Tim Clayton
As the son of the boss of Australian cricket, Will Sutherland has heard the barbs before.
“You get a bit of sledging,” the talented junior said. “You get selected from your dad.”
The teenager knows it’s not true – and he has the runs on the board to show it. Given the potential he is showing, there will be plenty more opportunities for opponents to trash-talk him.
Sutherland, whose father James is the chief of Cricket Australia, is among a group of precocious youngsters progressing through the governing body’s pathways system.
Among his contemporaries is Austin Waugh, the son of former national captain Steve, who has already made headlines for his deeds with NSW in the under-17 national championships.
There are huge wraps on the pair, who along with NSW’s Jason Sangha, are considered well above their age group.
Sangha, 17, became the youngest player contracted by the Blues this year when he was signed as a 16-year-old.
All three have been named to play in a Big Bash League curtain-raiser at the SCG on Tuesday as part of a CA initiative aimed at keeping talented juniors in the game.
Sutherland will lead a Ponting XII consisting of the best performers from this year’s under-17 national championships, against a Gilchrist XII from the under-19s tournament.
Sutherland’s performances with bat and ball are proof there is no nepotism behind his rise in the game.
Batting in the middle order for a CA XI consisting of under-17s at the national under-19 championships, he averaged 51 with a strike rate of 101, and claimed 10 wickets at 16. His standout game came against Queensland, producing a match-winning double of 95 and 5-27.
CA’s pathways manager Graham Manou, a South Australian stalwart who played his only Test in the 2009 Ashes, does not believe it will be long before Victoria sign up Sutherland, who has already made his first-grade debut.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Cricket Victoria look to contract him in the next year or two. From an all-rounder perspective, he’s someone who I can see having a bright future,” Manou said.
Sutherland, a student at Melbourne’s Scotch College, is also a promising footballer, but is committing to cricket despite interest from Oakleigh Chargers, who play in the AFL’s feeder competition the TAC Cup.
“Cricket’s the way to go at the moment, I just enjoy footy with my mates at school,” Sutherland said.
Waugh is already on NSW’s radar as the recipient of a Basil Sellers Scholarship this year. He has not made his first-grade debut and is considered one or two years away from contending for a rookie contract with the Blues.
Waugh, who also had a strong under-19s tournament, bears an uncanny resemblance to his father.
“It was very scary, the first time I saw him – his mannerisms,” Manou said. “Genetically, I suppose you’d expect [it], but it’s like he’s watched a tape of his old man for years. They’re very, very similar.”