Callum can’t wait for Norfolk Cricket Festival chance

Chris Brown is confident Callum Taylor will not be fazed by his Minor Counties Championship debut on the opening day of the Norfolk Festival of Cricket at Horsford tomorrow.

Swardeston's rising star has been fast-tracked through to face Northumberland, just 26 days after his 16th birthday. He misses becoming Norfolk's youngest-ever championship player by five hours and ten minutes – Sam Arthurton remaining just ahead of him for his debut against Bucks in 2008. But his county skipper is not worrying about how he will react to the big occasion.

'When I spoke to him to tell him the news he was just very much looking forward to it,' said Brown. 'Callum has come through the Norfolk Cricket emerging players programme and he has excelled at that. He's on the Essex academy and he's had some decent performances for Swardeston with a big game-winning score in their ECB Cup match on Sunday. In the younger age groups he scored hundreds quite heavily right from the very beginning. In his first Development game against Suffolk he played beautifully as well. I don't think he gets fazed by the big occasion.'

Swardeston club captain Peter Thomas believes that Taylor's outstanding unbeaten 89 in the national club championship against Stanmore was a good indication of his quality, saying: 'He's more than ready.'

Taylor, who left Cromer High School following his recent exams and will be starting a groundsman's apprenticeship at Easton College in September, was already counting down the hours after being told the news.

'I can't wait actually,' he said. 'They say the Festival games get quite big crowds and I think to play in one for my county will just be an amazing experience.'

Though the absence of regulars Arthurton, Harry Bush, Luke Caswell and Stephen Gray – all of whom will be available for the second Festival match against Buckinghamshire –gave Taylor his chance, he will be doing his best to extend his run.

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'My selection did come as a surprise, but I feel as though I've been scoring runs and playing well so I feel I've deserved my selection,' he said, adding: 'If you do as well as you can and score runs you feel it gives you chance to stay in the team.'

Brown endorses the incentive to the players who have stepped in, including four others making their home championship debuts –Nathan Perry-Warnes, Ben France, Ryan Findlay and wicket-keeper Jason Blake.

'Obviously it's an inexperienced side but we're hoping these guys can step up and make the job of the selectors hard when they pick the team for the next game.'

Norfolk know all about Northumberland, who last month knocked them out in the quarter-finals of the MCCA Trophy at Jesmond following a stunning 95 by South African star Jacques Du Toit. They went on to lose to Berkshire in the semi-finals.

Brown feels the scene is set for a spectacular three weeks, saying: 'We've got a great forecast and this is a fantastic place to play at festival time. Crowds are fantastic, the venue is stunning with the hospitality marques and members' wigwams. It's just a great environment to play cricket.'

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