SYDNEY Thunder coach Shane Bond described the extension of Matthew Gilkes' Big Bash League contract to run until the end of BBL|12 as an investment in a player blessed with unlimited potential.
The 21-year-old left-handed wicketkeeper-batter provided the Thunder Nation with an insight into his ability during BBL|08 when - after joining the club as a local replacement player - he scored a cracking half-century during his debut against the Scorchers in Perth.
The Ulladulla product has now played 11 matches for Thunder, completing five dismissals and scoring 144 runs.
Bond, who blooded the then-19-year-old against a star-studded Scorchers attack, said there were many reasons for wanting to extend Gilkes's deal, until the end of the 2022-23 season.
"I think Matt's one of the most exciting up-and-coming batters in Australia and he's a terrific young bloke - so it's great that we've secured him for the long term," Bond said.
"Like any young player, you have to give him some time, but we think he's going to develop into an incredible all-round player.
"It's fantastic that he's going to be on our roster for the next few years."
Gilkes, who was recently promoted from the NSW Blues rookie list to a full-time contract, said he was excited to be in the position where he could continue to develop his game alongside some of the world's best players.
"Last season, my first full season with Thunder, was such a great experience," Gilkes said.
"We had a lot of guys with a lot of experience which was amazing for a young player like me.
"To see how guys like Alex Hales and Usman Khawaja go about it and be able to chat to them about how they approach the game was a great learning experience.
"I get along really well with all the coaching staff and the playing group has been so welcoming.
"I'm really excited to be staying at Thunder for the next few seasons."
The welcome news about the former Ulladulla High School student's future follows the recruitment of former Australian international Ben Cutting from the Brisbane Heat, and the re-signing of Thunder's all-time leading wicket-taker Daniel Sams until the end of BBL|12.
Sydney Thunder is set to open its 10th BBL campaign on December 5 against the Melbourne Stars at the MCG, before playing its first game at Sydney Showground Stadium on December 8.