Will Sutherland, son of Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland and one of the most talented young athletes in the country, has revealed his decision to choose cricket over football.
Having led Australia at Under-19 level but also been among the most closely watched AFL players at junior level, 17-year-old Sutherland has chosen to accept the offer of a multi-year rookie deal with Victoria rather than nominating for the AFL draft.
"This was an incredibly tough decision," Sutherland said. "Most of the advice that I received was to just follow my passion. That sounds easy enough, but not so much when my passion is for both sports.
"I really loved my experience in the recent Under-18 National Championships when representing Vic Metro and this only made the decision more difficult. When it came down to it, my love and passion for the game of cricket just won out.
"I've thoroughly enjoyed representing my state and country in the under-age ranks and the prospect of potentially being able to continue this at the senior level is very much my dream. I'm excited and relieved about this decision and will now look to focus on completing my Year 12 studies."
A powerful batsman and strong fast-medium bowler, Sutherland had been openly courted by the AFL amid expectations that he could be a top 10 draft pick. Details of Sutherland's contract with the Bushrangers will not be finalised until an MoU is agreed between CA and the Australian Cricketers Association.
"We're pleased Will has made this decision and we look forward to supporting him through the rest of his Year 12 studies and his Cricket Pathway," Cricket Victoria's general manager Shaun Graf said.
"The full Cricket Victoria squad lists for the upcoming 2017-18 season will be announced following the resolution of an MoU."