By Philip Banyard
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Olly Stone has described captaining the England Under-19s to victory in the opening Youth Test in South Africa as a “dream come true”.
The 19-year-old Vauxhall Mallards bowler from Brundall, who plays professionally for Northamptonshire, was only installed as skipper on Friday following an injury to Shiv Thakor. Five days later he had a first Test victory under his belt after England beat the hosts by 107 runs at the famous Newlands ground in Cape Town yesterday.
Speaking exclusively to the EDP, Stone said: “For most of us it was a dream come true to walk out and play there. Everyone enjoyed the challenge and we just cherished the moment. It helped to spur us on in the game.
“It’s definitely a great start and going forward now I think everyone is confident we can go out and do well and use this match as a springboard for the rest of the tour.”
There was a worrying moment for the former Thorpe St Andrew High School pupil on the second morning of the match when he dislocated a finger in the warm-up – but he showed no ill-effects when he was cleared to bowl later in the day, as he picked up four wickets.
“We were doing fielding drills before play started and taking high catches and I took one on the end of the finger and dislocated it,” he said. “It’s fine, I’ve just got to keep it taped up inbetween games and putting ice on it and I’ll be fine for the rest of the tour.”
After an important knock of 29 in the first innings – he added 60 with centurion Ed Barnard to help England recover from a poor start – Stone claimed match figures of six for 89. But he insisted his captaincy role had not helped him significantly lift his game: “Maybe a little bit, but I didn’t feel the responsibility that much,” he said. “I just went out to bat normally and not to think about being captain too much. I just went out there to enjoy it.
“It was good batting with Ed, it was an amazing knock from him to get us out of the situation we were in. He’s one of the younger players in the squad and that will stand him in really good stead.”
Stone appears to have taken the sudden elevation to lead the team in his stride and he added: “I was more than happy to take it on. No-one put any pressure on me and everyone has been really supportive. It wasn’t too different to just playing normally and it didn’t really affect me.
“I’ve got previous experience of captaining the Norfolk age group sides but it’s not something I’ve done for a few years. I’ve been in and around different levels of cricket and picked up some tips so the captaincy doesn’t really hold any big surprises for me.”
South Africa resumed yesterday on 66 for four, needing 205 more runs to win.
Stone struck an early blow for England as he trapped Vincent Moore lbw. A seventh wicket stand of 70 frustrated the tourists, but after Andries Gous was dismissed for 83 they quickly wrapped up the win, with Craig Kirsten unable to bat after suffering a stress fracture of the back.
The second and final Youth Test starts in Paarl on Sunday and is followed by five Youth One-Day Internationals.