Rugeley rising star Theo Wylie has World Cup in his sights
Playing at a World Cup is the 'pinnacle' of age group cricket says teenage sensation Theo Wylie.
The youngster heads off to India next month with England under-19's as they prepare for the cricket World Cup in Sri Lanka in the new year.
The 17-year-old, who was born and bred in Rugeley, burst onto the international radar this summer scoring a stunning 150 for a junior England invitational XI against Australia under-19s in August.
He backed that up with another hundred against Ireland which led to his first call-up to the full England squad.
Wylie, who grew up playing in the county age groups for Staffordshire before moving to Warwickshire, admitted that playing in a World Cup for his country is something he has had ambitions of since he was young.
He said: "It is something I have wanted to do since I was 10. Play for England.
"The tour to India you cannot ask for much more, but to hopefully to get into the World Cup squad that is the pinnacle of age group cricket. Getting into that squad gives you really good coverage."
Wylie is another product of the successful Shrewsbury School cricket programme that has produced many first-class and under-19 cricketers.
He feels as though a tour in India is great preparation for a World Cup in subcontinental conditions.
He said: "I have never played in India, but I have toured in Sri Lanka, which is a little bit similar but maybe more humid.
"Turning pitches, long days, hot, everything English cricket probably is not.
"The ball turns rather than swings, it is good.
"I am really looking forward to it, they are a good punch of lads and we get to see what you could be up against at the World Cup.
"It is a good tour they have picked for preparation for a World Cup in Sri Lanka."
It has not been a straightforward path to the top for the Warwickshire Academy star who also plays for Shifnal in the Birmingham League.
In fact, his role as a cricketer has evolved in the last 12 months. He was a left-arm quick bowler who batted in the lower middle order, but now he bowls left-arm spin and is a hard-hitting, aggressive opening batter.
Adjustments like that must be difficult to make - but he has adapted in a short period of time.
He said: "Eight months ago I was bowling pace thinking I was an opening bowler who batted number six.
"But due to injury that changed, I could not bowl, so I started opening the batting in some T20 stuff, got a few runs which was nice, and it just went from there.
"One of the coaches said why not try spin as I was very injury prone with stress fractures and muscle injuries.
"I loved it. I feel physically good as well so I cannot ask for much more.
"At Shrewsbury, I have all the facilities, so I am always trying out new stuff in practice.
"I sort of realised that I am a better batter when I try and bat positively and aggressively.
"I showed glimpses last season in school cricket opening the batting, and that led to Warwickshire giving me the opportunity this year.
"I have not looked back from there really, they have opened with me in 50 over stuff and second team T20 matches.
"It all came from me experimenting as much as I can."
The senior England white-ball squad have played very aggressive cricket over the last decade culminating in a double World Cup success.
This is the style of cricketer Wylie is, and he has spoken about why he plays the way he does.
He said: "You want to score runs as much as you can, but if I get out, I want to get out on my own terms.
"So if they bowl me a good ball and I am prodding at it then I would be thinking 'that is not you'.
"If I get out on my terms then I feel as if I have done it in the right way. You are going to get out in cricket that is inevitable, but if I get out trying to score I am happy.
"That way it is more of an execution issue.
He signed a professional rookie contract this summer which allowed him to be a part of the Warwickshire squad during their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign, and the dream is to play for the Bears in a T20 at Edgbaston.
"I would love to represent the Birmingham Bears in the T20 Blast. If I can do that this year or next year.
"I wouldn't mind a bit of franchise cricket abroad, a few things to do. But T20 in front of 20,000 people at Edgbaston I would love that."