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Oliver Patel of Hartley Country Club in Gravesend named youngest person to ever win Kent League batting award for cricket

A 15-year-old boy is the youngest person ever to win a Kent League batting award for cricket.

Oliver Patel from Hucking, near Maidstone, totalled a phenomenal 600 runs this season - more than any other player in his division across the whole county.

Oliver Patel achieved three centuries in a season
Oliver Patel achieved three centuries in a season

The Maidstone Grammar School pupil, who plays in Gravesend for Hartley Country Club's second team in the fifth division, also achieved three centuries between April and September.

This is when a batsman gets 100 or more runs in a single innings.

Whacking his first ball into the sky at just six, Oliver attributes his success to "concentration, hard work and lots of practice."

His dad, Sanjay, chipped in: "And talent!"

Sanjay added: "It's incredible that Oliver got three centuries, getting his first when he was 14 and following it up with two others.

Oliver accepting his award from ex Kent player and current Kent coach, Matt Walker
Oliver accepting his award from ex Kent player and current Kent coach, Matt Walker

"It's quite a thing to get a 100 - it requires a lot of concentration. Many youngsters get 30 or 40 and then get out because they just can't keep focused.

"Oliver times it and hits the ball very cleanly. I'm really proud and hope he carries on playing."

Hartley colts manager, Paul Thompson, said: "Oliver is an exceptionally talented cricketer - I'd say he's in the top three players the club has ever had, along with Sam Billings, who now plays for England.

"I think the turning point was at an under 15s game in 2017 when he scored a 52 - he's been growing in confidence from this moment onwards."

The teenager, who lives in Scragged Oak Lane, has loved cricket since he began swinging the bat almost 10 years ago.

Oliver Patel is the youngest ever person to win the award
Oliver Patel is the youngest ever person to win the award

"I just enjoy the overall game," he said. "I play tennis as well and it's not as enjoyable sometimes because you're on your own. With a team sport, even if you're playing badly others can help you."

As well as being a member of Hartley in Gravesend, Oliver is part of the Charing team and his school club, training three or four times a week.

He said: "I think I've improved a lot over the last few years. Before I was just average but I've put in a lot of work and got so much better."

Inspired by his father, who was also a keen cricketer as a young man, Oliver added: "If it wasn't for my dad, I probably wouldn't be playing at the moment - I'm happy he made me start."

Oliver's mum, Jane, said: "The thing is, you can have all the talent in the world but if you can't concentrate - one bad shot and that's it - you're out.

"Watching him play amazes me and I also love seeing other people's reactions, and the fact he's hit three 100s is pretty special- there are not even many adults in Kent who've done that."

This year, Oliver, whose favourite cricket player is the Indian national team captain Virat Kohli, was also awarded for being youngest player at Hartley club, and has achieved several accolades in the past.

If the opportunity arose, Oliver said he would love to play cricket professionally in the future.

He added: "Cricket is probably my favourite thing to do."

Oliver picked up his batting award at the Kent League dinner at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel on Friday.

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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