WESTHOUGHTON’S Matty Morris says earning a county contract would be a dream come true after encouraging while on trial with Essex.

Morris, a 20-year-old top-order batsman who also bowls off-spin, played three games for Essex’s second team last week across one-day and three-day cricket.

His best performance came in a 50-over Trophy win against Kent at Tunbridge Wells on Friday, hitting 45 from number seven and returning an impressive 1-33 from nine overs.

Prior to that, on April 18 – his 20th birthday – he hit a half-century for a Staffordshire Development side and played a senior Minor Counties fixture for them yesterday.

“It’s been amazing, and I’m just trying to take every moment in my stride and be relaxed about the situation,” he said, having scored 800 runs and taken 26 wickets for Westhoughton last year.

“It’s gone not too bad so far.

“To get a contract and play county cricket would be a dream. But I’m trying to take each day as it comes to stay relaxed about it.”

Morris, son and grandson of David junior and David senior, corrected the assumption Bolton-born Essex legend Ronnie Irani paved the way for him to trial at Chelmsford.

“It wasn’t necessarily through Ronnie Irani,” he continued.

“We’ve gone down a number of different routes, so it’s hard to say which one was successful.

“I got an email from their second XI coach, Barry Hyam, and it was a really good experience there. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Morris spent the winter playing grade cricket on Australia’s Gold Coast with the Southport Labrador club.

“Going overseas for six months was an experience,” he reflected.

“I scored six fifties out of seven innings, with five in a row. It was brilliant to get that start as an overseas player with the pressure that’s on you.

“That settled some nerves, for sure.

“Having come back, I’ve tried to be more positive and play with a free mind. Playing 12 months of the year, I’ve learnt a lot of new skills.”

As for his immediate future with Essex, he said: “It’s an open book at this moment in time.”

Morris was due to play for Westhoughton in Saturday’s rained off Peter Stafford Trophy opener at Lostock.

The Howfeners have signed West Indies batsman Jonathan Carter as their professional and expect him to debut in their Premiership clash with Lostock on May 18 after ODI duty in Ireland.

They have also signed former Derbyshire all-rounder Chesney Hughes as an amateur. Both Carter and Hughes have previously played for Kearsley.

Captain Rob Houghton, who is backing Morris to make the step up to county cricket, said: “Last year was tough, and we didn’t finish anywhere near where we wanted to.

“But we’re fairly confident that, with the signings we’ve made and the talent already in the dressing room, we should have a good season.

“Matty’s a promising young player committed to doing what he needs to achieve his dream.

“Since he’s come back from Australia, it’s been obvious to see the improvements he’s made.

“It would be a great advert for us and the Bolton League if Matty can play county cricket. Hopefully he’ll get there.”