The bowling coach hailed as a major reason for England’s Ashes triumph has forecast a bright future for another paceman under his wing – Norfolk teenager Bud Bailey.
Bailey, 15, who will tour South Africa with England Under-16s next month, spent four days at the ECB National Cricket Centre at Loughborough, his reward for winning one of four prestigious Daily Telegraph Bunbury Scholarships for his performances at the English Schools Cricket Association’s Bunbury Festival in Cornwall last July.
It meant the Swardeston and Northamptonshire Academy fast bowler was able to train with the England A squad, under the watchful eye of England fast bowling coach Troy Cooley, the man who helped Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones hit peak form to fire out the Australians.
And Cooley, soon to give up the England job to take a similar post with his native Australia, was full of praise for the lad from Watton.
“Bud’s pretty well-known to us. I’ve seen him now for a year and a bit,” said Cooley. “He’s been part of the England Under-15 programme and the fast bowling squad that works from under-15 right up to senior cricketers.
“He’s an excellent, big lad, and has put in a lot of hard work up to date and it’s brought good results.
“He’s got some very good raw skills, coupled to being 6ft 7in, which is another big advantage.
“How far he goes is all down to ambition. As long as he wants to do it – and he certainly enjoys all the hard work – and he continues in the same vein, the results will come. He’s one of the hardest workers here and with every session he wants to improve.”
Indeed, one of that Ashes pace quartet was on hand to give Bailey advice and inspiration during Thursday’s net session.
Said Bailey: “Simon Jones was watching me bowl in the nets and giving me a lot of encouragement.
“The coaches in charge have been Peter Moores, David Parsons and Troy Cooley and I spent an hour in the nets yesterday with Ottis Gibson.
“We’ve been starting about 8.45 each morning and have been working until six o’clock, but I don’t think it’s been too arduous – I’ve really enjoyed it.
“It’s been a chance to learn what the top players do and how they prepare, and to take part in the same programme as them has been great experience.”
Cooley explained: “They do everything here – they get a full taste of what happens with the senior players in terms of preparation and fitness and they’ve done swimming, pilates, flexibility . . . you name it.
“Today Bud was bowling in the nets alongside Sajid Mahmood and he had Simon Jones watching him, which is fantastic.”
Bailey and fellow Norfolk 15-year-old Rob Newton, a prolific batsman who also plays for Swardeston and attends the Northants Academy, leave for South Africa with England Under-16s on February 3 for a 16-day trip.
Said Cooley: “It’s a great opportunity for Bud to play in South Africa. The South African wickets are probably a bit flatter than the ones here, but he bowls extremely well with plenty of control and bounce and if he gets it together over there I’m sure he’ll cause the South African batsmen some problems.”
Bailey and Newton were among 50 of the nation’s best under-15 cricketers at the Daily Telegraph-sponsored Bunbury Festival.
Bailey, Sam Northeast, Tom Winslade and James Harris were the final four selected for Loughborough to work with the National Cricket Academy coaches.
“Full marks to Bunbury for making this opportunity available and it’s thoroughly deserved for what these lads have done by putting in some very good performances,” said Cooley.