England star Stone never forgets his Norfolk roots
- Credit: PA
Olly Stone faces a busy summer of international cricket with England, but the Warwickshire fast bowler has not forgotten the considerable part that Norfolk played in his development.
Stone first played cricket for Vauxhall Mallards, his first junior county cricket for Norfolk - who recommended him to Northamptonshire – and his formative senior county cricket for Norfolk in the Minor Counties Championship, now National Counties Championship, 10 years ago.
More than that, Stone has continued to make himself available for Norfolk selection whenever his county and international commitments permit and he has also helped to develop the next generation of Norfolk players by assisting county coach Chris Brown in the Emerging Players Programme.
“Norfolk have played a massive part in my development but it’s not just me, there are other good young cricketers who have come out of the county,” Stone said.
“I try to give something back to Norfolk whenever I can to try to inspire a few more to follow in my footsteps. That’s a big thing for me.”
It was Steve Goldsmith, the former Derbyshire all-rounder, who first identified Stone’s potential and recommended him to Northamptonshire, with whom Norfolk have close links.
“I started playing cricket because my brothers played, but I got into the Norfolk age group sides and then it became a bit more serious,” Stone said.
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“It was Steve Goldsmith who said that if took it seriously then I had a chance of progressing. Norfolk had links with Northamptonshire and I was invited down for a couple of sessions with David Ripley, who was in charge of their academy at that time.
“They liked the look of me, I kept going back and it went from there.”
Those regular visits to Wantage Road meant plenty of commitment from Stone’s parents, but his continued development, culminating in two Tests caps to date, have compensated them.
“I was talking with mum and dad about how many miles they travelled taking me to Northampton for training every other Sunday,” he said.
“It was two hours there and two hours back so it was a big commitment and I was very lucky that my parents had the time to do it.
“We haven’t calculated how many miles they did during those years, it was more about how much money they spent on petrol.
“They were very supportive and hopefully I am starting to reward them with some game time for England.”
Although Stone’s appearances for Norfolk have been sporadic, he enjoys the opportunity to play alongside players who came up through the county’s age group system in the friendly, but competitive, atmosphere of National Counties cricket.
“I haven’t played a huge amount for Norfolk but sometimes the fixtures have fallen right for me,” Stone said.
“On a couple of occasions I have been coming back from injuries and playing for Norfolk has been a good stepping stone in my rehab.
“It’s a chance to give something back to Norfolk but I also enjoy it. A lot of the current team I grew up with so it’s a friendly and familiar atmosphere.”