Swardeston paceman Bud Bailey bowled at some star names this week as he made his first class debut for Northamptonshire – although he may not recognise all of them.
The 18-year-old prospect, from Watton, was a shock inclusion in the Northants side for the County Championship opener against Essex at Chelmsford. And after Northants batted for most of the first day, he got his chance to shine with the ball today.
His father, Andy, who has played for several club sides in Norfolk, said Bud – who stands at just over 6ft 7in – would not be fazed by the prospect of bowling against players with Test match experience, such as Essex’s Jason Gallian, Ravi Bopara, James Foster and Andre Nel: “He doesn’t really follow cricket,” said Andy, “which I think is a good thing because he doesn’t know most of the people he will be playing against, so he has no fear of them. Reputations won’t mean a lot him and they will be just another batsman to bowl at.
“He rang me yesterday morning to say he’d been picked and that was it, he wasn’t over the moon or anything. I’m sure there will be nerves but he doesn’t show it – I’m sure he’s chuffed to pieces really.”
Bud, who plays club cricket for Swardeston, spent two weeks in December at a fast bowling academy in South Africa and during the winter months he has concentrated on developing his body strength.
“He has attended weekly sessions at Greens Health and Fitness Club in Norwich to develop his core stability in a bid to prevent the type of injuries which many pace bowlers suffer.
“He’s worked extremely hard and he’s absolutely solid,” said Andy. “Northants were very keen for him to do that. You see a lot of older cricketers now getting injuries because they did not do this type of training when they were younger.”
All that hard work clearly paid off in pre-season, as Bud took four wickets in a warm-up game against Hampshire, including the prize scalp of former England Test batsman John Crawley.
Speaking after that game, Bud said: “I just hope that more of these opportunities are around the corner for me as bowling at this level is something that I really love doing.
“It is a big step up from academy cricket and I have learnt that you need to be much more disciplined in the way you bowl as the batsmen really punish anything loose.”
He also bowled well in the following pre-season game, against Derbyshire and his reward came with yesterday’s call-up.
Norfolk had earmarked Bailey to spearhead their attack this season, although his sudden elevation could hamper that plan.
But Andy said: “He’s spoken to the Academy director, David Ripley, who told him that he should be able to play in the early one-day games for Norfolk, as long as he hasn’t bowled too much during the week and if Northants don’t need him. He should also be able to play a few games for Swardeston.”
Bailey junior went into bat at number 10 yesterday and made three before being dismissed by Essex debutant David Masters as Northants were all out for 280. He did not bowl as Essex faced three overs last night, reaching four without loss.