ENGLAND Under 19 wicketkeeper Joe Clarke has signed a contract extension with Worcestershire until the end of the 2016 season.

Shrewsbury-born Clarke has been on a summer scholarship deal with the County in 2014 before being due to switch to a full contract in 2015.

But that contract has now been extended by a further 12 months.

Clarke, 18, becomes the sixth player in the last fortnight to commit their future with the county for the next two years after Joe Leach, Chris Russell, Tom Fell, Ben Cox and Tom Kohler-Cadmore. All six are products of Worcestershire’s academy system.

Clarke, and county colleague Ed Barnard, were part of the England Under 19 squad during last winter’s World Cup and the recent two-Test and five one-day international series with South Africa.

He has also enjoyed a successful summer with the County’s second eleven and scored 222 against MCC Young Cricketers at Kidderminster — the highest ever score by a Worcestershire player in the Second XI Championship.

Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes said: “I’m really excited by both Clarke and Barnard. They wouldn’t be playing for England Under 19s if they weren’t very good cricketers.

“With Joe, he has already got a stackful of runs in our second eleven this year, averaging 60-odd in the longer format.

“Being the under 19 wicketkeeper, he is another one of our young players with a very bright future.

“He plays in a very aggressive manner and likes to get on with it and he hits the ball very cleanly. I’m delighted he has extended his contract.”

Clarke said: “I’ve had some good performances this summer and the contract extension will give me more chance to improve and push forward in my career.

“I’ve been quite happy with my performances for the second eleven and hopefully they will continue next year.

“The main aim is to push for the first team but I’ve just got to keep on performing for the second eleven and maybe a chance will come,” added Clarke.

“I’m really pleased to sign the contract extension.”