Eight boys have been awarded Sussex Cricket Academy places for the 2018 season.

Four of the intake retain their places from 2017, while four new players are welcomed into the joint programme between Sussex and the ECB that is overseen by Academy Director and former Sussex batsman Carl Hopkinson.

Tom Clark, Will Collard, Tom Gordon and Harrison Ward return and they will be joined by Jamie Atkins, Jack Carson, Henry Crocombe and Will Sheffield.

Atkins is a right-arm seamer who bowled consistently well as an under-15 in the Sussex Under-17 side that shared the national three-day Championship this season.

A student of The Forest School in Horsham and a member of Roffey CC, Atkins has represented Sussex since he was an under-10.

All-rounder Carson is a right-handed, middle-order batsman and off-spin bowler. In the first year of his A-levels at Hurstpierpoint College and has been with Sussex since he was an under-12.

Fellow all-rounder, Tom Clark is a left-handed, top-order batsman and right-arm medium pacer bowler who will be in his second year on the Academy.

In his first year of sixth-form studies, he is a student at Ardingly College. Clark returned from injury at the back end of the Under-17s’ successful three-day campaign and averaged 53 in his three appearances.

In his final year at Hurstpierpoint, Collard is a leg-spin bowler has been part of the county system since he was an under-10.

He was first selected for the Academy in 2017 after impressing on a pre-season tour.

Crocombe is another right-arm seamer that featured for the Under-17s whilst an under-15 this season. Sitting his GCSEs at Bede’s next summer and with Sussex since he was an under-12, Crocombe was selected for London & South East at the English School’s Cricket Association Under-15s festival and at the ECB’s Super-4s Under-17 competition.

Gordon is a middle-order, right-handed batsman and right-arm seamer who has been part of the Academy for the past two seasons. Another Bede’s student, Gordon – who is in his first year of A-levels – had his 2017 appearances for Sussex limited by injury.

Sheffield is a left-arm swing bowler. Having been involved in district and area cricket for some time, he broke into the county age-group squad in 2017 and impressed with his contributions to the Under-17s’ successful season. He averaged just 14 with the ball and displayed his prowess as a lower-order batsmen when he hit an unbeaten 76 in the final of the three-day Championship. In his final year at the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy, he is the first boy from the Aldridge Cricket Academy to move onto the Sussex Academy.

Ward will be entering his third year as an Academy player. In his final year at St Edward’s School in Oxford, he is part of the Sussex set-up thanks to the club’s partnership with the Oxfordshire Cricket Board. Ward is a left-handed top-order batsman with the potential to play in all formats of the game. He also bowls off-spin but after appearing in an invitational England Under-19 fixture against India, injury ruled him out of most of the 2017 county season.

Academy director Hopkinson said: “I’m very excited about this year’s Academy intake.

“We’ve got a good mix of spinners, seamers, all-rounders and top-order batsmen and a good mix of age ranges across all these disciplines.

“All those included in the 2018 intake played a part in the Under-17s success in the County Championship, which highlights the strength of this group of players."

Sussex will announce the 2018 girls’ Academy and EPP intake next week.