Two sharply contrasting young bowlers have been given their own chance to shine on Northamptonshire CCC’s Academy next summer.
Fast bowler Harry Bates and spinner Freddie Heldreich will be honing their skills indoors during the close-season after impressing Academy Director Kevin Innes.
And Bates – who plays for Leicestershire club Sileby Town – has already been drafted into the Loughborough MCCU squad for 2019 as he continues his studies at Loughborough College.
“We picked Harry up at the start of the 2018 season through a contact at his club and invited him along to some sessions at Northampton,” explains Innes.
“He bowled at our pros in the nets and handled himself very well. He’s a very raw talent, big and strong with plenty of pace. I believe he was in the Leicestershire system when he was 13 or 14 but for some reason didn’t get invited back.
“He’s very happy here and keen to do well – and getting involved with the Loughborough MCCU set-up will be fantastic for him. Hopefully, he’ll develop further with them and when he comes back to us in the summer we’ll have a really good product.
“They have lots of players with county contracts and some with first-class experience so he must benefit from that.”
Heldreich, a pupil at Framlingham College, is that relatively rare cricketing phenomenon, a left-arm wrist-spinner in the George Tribe mould.
Indeed, his style of bowling is so unusual in this country that he was invited to net with England’s test squad at Lord’s last summer – under the watchful eye of specialist spin coach Saqlain Mushtaq – as part of their preparations for tackling India’s ‘mystery spinner’ Kuldeep Yadav.
The teenager, whose recent club cricket has been with Woolpit CC near Bury St Edmunds, has also represented Suffolk in the Minor Counties T20 competition.
Innes says “Freddie bowls at a good pace with all the tricks – chinamen, wrong ‘uns, flippers and so on. He’s a real find for us because it’s unusual to come across someone with those skills at the age of 17.
“He’ll have a good run in our Under-17s next year and we’ll see where he goes from there.
“We had him on our Emerging Players Programme (EPP) this season and he was keen to play in our age-groups – but we had a couple of other spinners who would be getting through most of the overs, so we thought it better to give him plenty of bowling with Suffolk and it’ll be his turn with us next year.
“I’ve seen a bit of him bowling outside and I’m excited about seeing a lot more in the future.”
Also relatively new to the Academy set-up at Wantage Road is James Cronie, from Stowe School, who scored heavily in Under-15s and Under-17s cricket for Northamptonshire in 2018 to earn the Dorothy Radd Shield (following in the footsteps of Alex Wakely, Rob Keogh, Ben Duckett and Olly Stone) as the county’s outstanding performer in national age-group competitions.
Harry Gouldstone, Adam King, Ben Claydon, Emilio Gay, Andrew Bramley, Gus Miller and Connor Haddow all remain on the NCCC Academy for 2019.
“All of those young cricketers will be looking to impress in Second XI cricket now,” adds Innes. “They have a big couple of years ahead to show us what they can do at that level. I believe we have a good blend of ages and a good blend of roles– batsman, spinners, fast bowlers, wicketkeepers – on the Academy, and it’s my job to bring them through.”