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Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Ben Stokes earns Durham professional contract

Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes
Stokes made his debut at The Oval against Surrey in 2009

Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes has signed a two-year professional contract with the county champions.

The 18-year-old has been with Durham since 2007 and made his first XI debut in the Friends Provident Trophy against Surrey at The Oval last season.

"It's been an exciting few weeks for me and I'm really happy to have signed my first professional contract," the New Zealand-born England Under-19 man said.

"It's great to be involved with such a successful club."

Stokes, a right-arm medium pace bowler who bats left-handed, follows team-mates such as Mark Davies, Graham Onions and Phil Mustard out of the academy and into the first-class side at the Riverside.

And coach Geoff Cook is confident that Stokes has the potential to impress after a tough start to life in the seniors.

He's a great young talent and I'm pleased that he's going to be part of the squad

Durham coach Geoff Cook on Ben Stokes's future

"We set Ben a number of challenging targets for the 2009 season and he worked incredibly hard to meet them," Cook said.

"The transition from Academy to second XI and on to the first-team can be a tough one but I have been impressed by the way he has performed.

"He's a great young talent and I'm pleased that he's going to be part of the squad for the foreseeable future."

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