Archie Lenham can tap into some very impressive experience as he finds his way in professional sport.

And not just because he comes from a well-known Sussex cricketing family.

The 16-year-old spinner has been a big success in his first week of Vitality Blast action.

He was watched from the Hove boundary by proud dad Neil as he took 3-14 against Hampshire on Saturday, including a wicket with his first ball.

Dad has been a huge influence on Archie’s career.

But so has former Sussex skipper Alan Wells, in his role as head of cricket at Bede’s School near Eastbourne, Archie has had to juggle his academic commitments with county cricket as he makes his way with the Sharks, who visit Essex this evening.

Neil Lenham was a top-order batsman who made almost 350 appearances for Sussex across the formats of the time between 1984 and 1997.

Asked about the part his dad has played, Archie said: “I never saw him play but I’ve heard a lot about him.

“He has probably been the most key person in me being here today.

“He is a coach at my school as well.

“Him and Alan Wells at school have been so crucial to me being here.”

Bede’s impressive list of cricketing former pupils includes Shai Hope, Sarah Taylor, Luke Wells, Delray Rawlins and Ollie Rayner.

Wells made more than 700 appearances in a career which included spells with Sussex and Kent, making Test and ODI debuts for England.

He now leads the coaching team at Bede’s.

Lenham junior said: “It is an amazing place to train.

“They help me so much technically and then Alan Wells has helped so much about coming into a professional environment.

“He has told me how people are going to try and get me out, the pace I should bowl and stuff like that.

“It has been working really well.

“School have been really lenient with me going to play cricket and they have been really supportive.”

Archie’s grandfather Les appeared in 300 first-class matches for Sussex as a right-handed batsman before moving on to a successful coaching career.

Given all that, it is easy to imagine Archie with a bat in hand almost as soon as he could walk.

But he said: “I used to enjoy my football a bit more up to when I was eight or nine and then I just started to enjoy cricket.”

Archie has been playing for his school and Sussex League outfit Eastbourne until now.

Stand-in Sharks skipper Chris Jordan has been bringing him in and out of the attack at the right times His instructions to Lenham were to bowl as straight as possible, try and turn the ball and just do his thing.

The start on Saturday, as Aaron Thomason held a steepling catch as he hopped on one foot to stay inside the boundary marker, will long be remembered.

Lenham said: “As it came off the bat it’s a small boundary and I initially thought it was six.

“It was a bit gutting but then I saw Thomo get there. I thought he was treading on the rope but fortunately he didn’t.”

He added: “It’s a dream start, isn’t it? Ridiculous really. I just can’t explain it.”

Lenhan remains in the squad for the Essex game and T20 night at Chelmsford will be another experience for him.

Jordan will be keen to see how he handles it.


George Garton, who has been highly impressive with bat and ball in the opening two games, said: “You’re always in for a good laugh at Chelmsford.

“Because of the way the ground is, you’ve got the fans right on top of you and you can hear everything they say – and they’ve always got a bit to say!

“If we can play well again and come away with another win, that’s all that really matters though.”