Harrison Ward revealed that he had been inspired by England captain Alastair Cook after becoming the youngest player to score a century for Oxfordshire.

The Horspath CC opener shattered a 17-year record when he made 109 not out on his debut in the win against Herefordshire in the Unicorns Counties Championship at Brockhampton on Tuesday, aged 15 years and 269 days.

Ben Thompson, who also played for Horspath and was 17 years and 250 days when he made 111 for Oxfordshire against Herefordshire at Aston Rowant in 1998, was among the many to send his congratulations.

And when asked who his cricketing hero was, the left-handed Ward, who lives at Wootton, had no hesitation in replying: “Alastair Cook.

“I always looked at him as a young lad and being a left-handed batsman.

“He has had a very successful career and is England captain.”

Ward told the Oxford Mail following his call-up he has ambitions of playing for England.

And his father, Dave, 50, explained that his son’s dreams run even deeper.

“His mum (Nicky) and I – like all parents – make sacrifices,” he said.

“I think he said when I started coaching him at six that he not just wanted to be a professional cricketer, but wanted to play at Lord’s in an Ashes match – and the kid has every chance.”

A pupil at St Edward’s School, Oxford, Ward was thrilled to reach his landmark ton.

“It was brilliant,” he said. “I can’t really explain it. It was a great feeling. Everyone was up in their seats clapping.

“I read the Oxford Mail online about Ben Thompson holding the record, and to be the youngest person to score a hundred for Oxfordshire was quite a special feeling.”

An unforgettable day for the Wards was added to when Harrison was joined on the pitch by his father, who stood in after Richard Kaufman broke a finger attempting to take a catch.

“With what I had achieved, with my dad on the pitch it made it a bit extra special,” said Harrison, a member of Gloucestershire CCC’s junior academy.

And Dave, 50, added: “It has been phenomenal. People’s support has been just immense.

“It was a very special day in the Ward household.”