A Hastings Priory teenage cricket talent came up against a pair of England stars this week.
Adam Barton found himself bowling to Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara in the three-day MCC University Match between Cambridge MCCU and Essex.
“It was amazing,” said Barton, who joined Priory from Battle CC a few years ago. “Turning up on the first morning and seeing Cook and Bopara rock up was pretty cool.
“I had a sneaky feeling Cook was going to play and when England got knocked out of the World Twenty20 I thought Bopara might be playing if he wanted to make a case.”
Barton, a tall left-arm pace bowler, came on first change in Essex’s first innings after Cambridge won the toss and chose to field at Fenner’s, and admitted to feeling nervous when bowling to such top class performers.
“It didn’t go too well in the first innings,” he continued. “I got a bit nervous and my first ball to Cook was an above head no ball bouncer! It was pretty nerve-racking. I knew where to bowl to him, but I just tensed up and struggled a bit.
“You try not to think about it (who you’re bowling to), but you know if you bowl a bad ball you’re going to get punished. In my second spell the following day I bowled a lot better. I bowled a couple of good deliveries to Cook - one beat the bat and one got a thick outside edge.”
Although the county side comfortably won the match by 335 runs, claiming the wicket of Essex opener Jaik Mickleburgh in the second innings was a moment that will stay with Barton for some time.
Barton is in his first year at Anglia Ruskin University where he is studying sports science and the 18-year-old from Battle believes his bowling has improved a lot as a result of training four or five times per week.
Priory pace bowler John Morgan said: “He’s a really nice bloke and he’s done well. He’s very slightly built, but he can bowl a quick spell. If he can develop physically and get a bit stronger, he’s going to be a seriously good bowler.
“You need to put an arm round him now and again, but if you’re looking at potential and talent, he’s definitely a prospect. He’s played the majority of his cricket in our second team, but we’ve got high hopes for him cementing a place in the first team this year.”