South Wilts’ teenage left-arm quick Josh Croom helped put the Australia Test cricketers through their paces in Adelaide ahead of the first Border/Gavaskar Test, which saw India for dismissed an all-time low 36 all out and beaten by eight wickets.
The 18-year old from Stratford-Sub-Castle is spending the winter months at the Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy and spent four training sessions bowling at the Aussies ahead of the Test, writes Mike Vimpany.
He didn’t do badly either bowling out Travis Head (who played Southern Premier League cricket for Ventnor as an 18-year old in 2013) twice and then Aussie skipper Tim Paine – both in centre middle practice on the Adelaide Oval.
“It was a surreal experience bowling flat out in the middle of one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world with all the media and television people around,” Croom beamed.
“I bowled at all their top line batsmen, including Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Burns, and Matthew Wade, plus a host of the lower order.”
Croom, who was recently awarded a Hampshire Academy contract for the 2021 UK season, has become a familiar face in the Australia camp.
“In September I was one of the Academy bowlers to join their bubble at the Ageas Bowl as they prepared for the One Day and T20 Series against England.
“It was great to have all the Aussie coaches and players from their England trip remember me when I rocked up at the Adelaide Oval and to have a good catch up and learn about the game with all of them over the last week.
“I’ve really enjoyed my experience with the Aussies Test players, especially in September at the Ageas Bowl.
“It made me feel as though I was an International, having the experience of seeing how the players go about their business, both on and off the field.”
It wasn’t a one-sided thing either as the Millfield schooled Croom picked up a tip or two from the Aussie players which he hopes will hold him in good stead for the future.
“Pat Cummings and Josh Hazlewood (who between them routed Indian in the second innings) went out of their way to take me aside and gave me some valuable advice. They were terrific,” he smiled.
As a reward for his endeavours, Aussie head coach Justin Langer gave Croom complimentary tickets for the opening two days of the Test, which saw India dismissed for 244 and then bowl Australia out for 191.
“It was an incredible experience to watch two great days of cricket with very competitive teams up against each other. What happened on day 3, when Indian were rushed out for 36, was unreal,” he added.
Croom followed in South Wilts’ team-mate Raff Hussey’s footsteps by joining the Darren Lehmann Academy in mid-October and after spending his initial two weeks on Australian soil having to quarantine in a hotel.
He explained: “I spoke to many different people about joining the Academy, especially Raff (who went there two winters ago) and some of my Millfield school chums who recommended it highly.
“I’m staying in a house with two other cricketers from the Academy – trying to follow mum’s cookery tips – and have training camps four days a week, Monday to Thursday, developing our cricket skills, as well as fitness and gym work.
“Every Friday our head coach takes us down the beach to do recovery sessions (swimming, stretching), before we have matches for our clubs every Saturday.”
Croom has joined the South Australia seaside town grade club Glenelg, where Jake Winter (who spent the 2016 season at South Wilts) plays.
“It’s a superb setting, with a sizeable grandstand come pavilion and grassed banks all around,” Croom enthused.
Ian and Greg Chappell played at Glenelg before going on to play and skipper Australia on many occasions. It is also the home to Andrew Hilditch and off-spinner Ashley Mallett.
Croom certainly made a positive impression in his latest outing for Glenelg, taking a top six 3-28 in a seven-over spell with the new ball as Second Grade opponents West Torrens were rushed out for 100 and soundly beaten by 120 runs.
Reproduced by kind permission of www.vimpsatthecrease.com