Academy Graduate James Sales has been awarded his first professional contract, signing a two-year deal with Northamptonshire.

“It feels really good to have signed my first pro contract.” Sales said.

“It’s been a goal of mine since I was young, so it almost feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

Sales made his first-class and List A debuts for Northamptonshire this season and impressed with a couple of crucial performances.

The 18-year-old clinched a 2 wicket victory for Northamptonshire against Surrey in his first County Championship appearance, before posting a maiden half century while securing an unlikely draw against Durham in the next fixture.

“It’s always nice to contribute, particularly when you’ve just joined a team.

“It’s what I’m there to do at the end of the day and to get the team over the line in one of them meant even more.”

Head Coach John Sadler believed Sales was a very exciting prospect for the Club.

“He’s a natural athlete who bats, bowls and fields.” Sadler said.

“He’s very, very calm and composed, and we’ve seen that already when he’s gone in under pressure. He’s really shown that he belongs at this level and we’re looking forward to nurturing him over the next few years.

“He’s a cricketer with a very high ceiling above him and we’re very excited about that.”

Sales also grabbed the attention of national selectors and was named in England’s Under 19 squad in August before being recalled to Northamptonshire to make his debut in the Royal London Cup.

“Of course it would have been nice to make my England Under 19 debut, but I was extremely happy and excited when I was recalled to Northamptonshire and got the opportunity to represent my county.” Sales said.

“Hopefully I’ll get another opportunity with the Under 19s again soon.”

The son of David Sales, who made more than 500 appearances for Northamptonshire, James was looking forward to forging his own path at the Club he’s spent half his life at.

“I’m trying to make myself known in the game as James Sales rather than being David Sales’ son.”

“Dad’s career at Northamptonshire obviously lasted 20 years and I’ve been playing at Northants since I was 9, so to carry it on is pretty special.”