Sam Atkinson loving life on his cricketing journey

Moddershall & Oulton and Staffordshire team-mates Dan Richardson, left and Sam Atkinson celebrate the win.

Sam Atkinson has enjoyed a whirlwind 12 months, but he’s hoping it’s just the start of his cricketing journey.

Atkinson made his Staffordshire debut last summer, as well as captaining the county’s under-18s to top spot in the Championship group and leading them to two white-ball finals.

He’s picked up where he left off this season. Atkinson was part of the Staffs side which won the National Counties Cricket Association Twenty20 Cup for the first time.

It’s not just in Staffordshire where the 18-year-old seamer is highly regarded.

Atkinson has been involved with Warwickshire and was recently awarded a place on the Bears’ Academy.


“I started on the Staffordshire/Warwickshire pathway a few years ago which led to me playing a few games for the Warwickshire Under-18s as well as taking part in some indoor training days,” said Atkinson.

“I was given the opportunity to go to Zimbabwe in February for a two-week under-18s pre-season tour. It was a great tour and it was a good to get to know the other lads in the team.

“The coaches and Paul Greetham (Warwickshire’s academy director) were impressed with my cricket skills. And they were happy with what I brought to the team.

“They liked how passionate I am about cricket, how I never like to lose and also being a team player.

“Three weeks after returning home, on my 18th birthday, they offered me a place on the Warwickshire Academy. That’s something I had been thinking about for years.

“I felt all the hard work and dedication and all the times I missed out going out for my friends because of training or games was worth it.

“I’d love to be a first-class cricketer – it’s every cricketer’s dream, but I am not stupid. It does not come easy and I know I have to keep working hard to achieve it.”

‘Top talent’

Hard work has been at the heart of Atkinson’s development to help him break into Staffordshire’s senior side.

His talents were well known with head coach Andy Carr also overseeing the under-18s.

But such is the regard that Atkinson is held in, he’s been trusted by first-team skipper James Kettleborough to take the new ball this summer.

That move has reaped rewards with Atkinson taking six wickets to help Staffs to T20 glory. He has picked up four victims in two Knockout Trophy outings, including a fine haul of 3-25 in the victory against Wales.

“I settled into the team quite quickly as I had a good relationship with Andy Carr from Staffs Under-18s,” he added. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Carri for the last two or three years.

Sam Atkinson took three wickets in Staffordshire's NCCA Knockout Trophy win against Wales.
Sam Atkinson took three wickets in Staffordshire’s NCCA Knockout Trophy win against Wales.

“I built a great relationship with Carri and Ketts by being captain for the Staffs Under-18s.

“Now Ketts is my captain and Carri is my head coach. They are both aware of my cricket ability and support me in every way.

“My journey in the T20s was amazing. I picked up wickets along the way and did what was asked of me.

“Getting to the T20 final was the best day of my cricket journey so far! It was a massive team effort and something I will never forget.”

‘Key clash’

Atkinson is part of Staffordshire’s squad for Sunday’s final NCCA Knockout Trophy Group Four game against Buckinghamshire at Moddershall & Oulton.

Staffs, after that opening win at Wales, were well beaten by Wiltshire at Smethwick in their second outing.

They then had a frustrating time last Sunday when their trip to Dorset was abandoned without a ball being bowled because of the bad weather.

That means Staffordshire have to beat Buckinghamshire and then hope that results go their way in next weekend’s final round of games to qualify for the latter stages.

Sam Atkinson celebrates taking a wicket in the NCCA Twenty20 Cup semi-final win against Berkshire.
Sam Atkinson celebrates taking a wicket in the NCCA Twenty20 Cup semi-final win against Berkshire.

This weekend will be extra special for Atkinson as the game takes place on his home ground – and he’s eyeing up another long run in the white-ball format.

“I am proud to be playing for my county at my home ground as moving to Moddershall & Oulton when I was 13 years old was the best decision I ever made,” explained Atkinson.

“Moddershall gave me plenty of opportunities. Sam Kelsall believed in me and gave me the chance to play PremierDivision cricket and I have never looked back.

“I hope there is plenty of support for us on Sunday in a must-win game. It is great to have three players from Moddershall – myself, Dan Richardson and Callum Hawkins – in the side. Hopefully we can get through to another final and bring another trophy home.”

‘Experience helps’

Atkinson’s development has also been helped by having former Lancashire paceman Liam Hurt in the Staffs side.

But while his county appearances have so far been in the white-ball format, Atkinson is keen to nail down a place in the Championship team when the Eastern Division action gets underway next month.

“I look up to the likes of Liam. He’s been in the professional game and his advice on and off the pitch is very helpful,” said Atkinson.

“I would love to be picked for the three-day red-ball games, I enjoy playing red ball. It’s a different skill mentally and physically, but gives great opportunity for team bonding.

“I don’t prefer any particular format, you have to learn to adapt if you want to take your career to the next level.”

And to reach the next level, Atkinson is hoping to develop his own individual game.

He’s known predominantly as a seamer at present, but is a more than useful operator with the bat lower down the order.

However, in an age where cricketers have to be two or three-dimensional players, Atkinson is looking to enhance his skills in all disciplines.

“I would love to become a middle-order batsman and a genuine all-rounder for Staffs and Warwickshire,” he added.

“I’ve just got to make sure I take the opportunity with the bat and ball. I feel you also need good fielding skills to become a good all-rounder.”

Sam Atkinson is being kindly sponsored by Horton Building Plastics for the 2023 NCCA season

Picture: Sam Atkinson, right, celebrates winning the NCCA T20 Cup with Dan Richardson. Image: Alfie Shenton