Cricket Wanganui's junior player of the year Sam Sherriff departed from Christchurch Airport this morning with the New Zealand Willows Youth team for the trip of a life time.
The Whanganui Collegiate 1st XI captain and Air Chathams Wanganui representative batsman will be part of a whirlwind tour of Sri Lanka and Malaysia, playing six matches over 11 days.
The Willows Cricket Club, from near Loburn in Canterbury, was founded in 1994 based on the principle that school 1st XIs should play against more experienced players, many of whom are present or past first-class cricketers.
They have had a long association with Collegiate, as the club and school were again scheduled to play each other in Christchurch back in mid-March, until the mosque shootings two days beforehand saw the trip cancelled.
After arriving first in Singapore from New Zealand, the Willows will play two one-day matches at grounds in Colombo this Tuesday and Wednesday, local time, before travelling inland the following day for a match in Kurunegala.
The next day, April 20, they head further down the road for a match at the Asgiriya Cricket Stadium in Kandy, before making the long trip to the southern end of the country to play at the Matara Cricket Stadium two days later.
The tour will conclude with their last match on April 23 at Galle International Cricket Stadium.
While most of the tour kit is provided to the team, the players have all been encouraged to bring at least a dozen balls with them, which could be cricket, tennis or even small rugby balls, so they can give them to the village children they will meet along the way.
Sherriff will follow in the footsteps of former schoolmate and fellow Wanganui representative player Connor O'Leary, who went on the tour in April 2017 as a bowler.
The young man has had an excellent summer, captaining the Ray White Wanganui Under 17 side to being joint winners of the Central Districts age-group tournament in Napier, then taking the CD Under 17s to finish runner-up at the national tournament in Lincoln.
He scored 50's in both one-day and two-day formats for the Wanganui senior team against Horowhenua-Kapiti.
Sherriff will endeavour to keep a running diary of his tour, hoping to post the entries up on the Cricket Wanganui Facebook page.