Teen aims to make an impression on Aussies

As England bid to wrestle back the Ashes, a young cricket star from Dudley is also aiming to sink the Aussies.

Teen aims to make an impression on Aussies

Himley batsman Ollie Westbury has been selected to play for an England Development Programme Invitational XI against Australia Under-19s in a two-day game starting tomorrow at Loughborough University.

The match is part of Australia's preparations for the forthcoming Under-19 ODI and Test series against England.

Former Worcestershire legend Graeme Hick is in charge of the Australian party and they will play an ODI at New Road on Saturday, August 22.

The EDP XI consists of the next rung of players outside the existing EDP cohort and players from this side could potentially come into under-19 contention this summer and for next year's Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh.

Westbury figured for EDP XI against Pakistan last year and this call is the latest step on what he hopes will be the road to professional career.

The 18-year-old, who has been at Himley since he was five, caught the eye with a recent century for Worcestershire against Nottinghamshire and is delighted to be taking on the Aussies.

"I got a hundred for Worcestershire seconds in front of one of the England under-19s selectors the other week, but it was still kind of a surprise when David Graveney rang me up with the good news." said Westbury. "It was great to score my first hundred at that level. The standard was very good and Nottinghamshire had Warwickshire and England paceman Chris Woakes playing for them as a guest as he continued his recovery from injury.

"He bowled pretty quick."

Ollie Westbury

The former Ellowes Hall School pupil, who lives on Milking Bank, has enjoyed a stellar campaign with Shrewsbury School where he became the first player since England's James Taylor to score a 1,000 runs in a season – a total that included six centuries.

"I have had a good season for my school and scored around 1,250 runs," said Westbury, who turns out for Himley's first team alongside former India Test batsman Wasim Jaffer in Division One of the Birmingham League. "I wanted to score 1,000 runs, it was a goal of mine, but I didn't expect to get that far past it."

And with the under-19 series against Australia and next year's World Cup in Bangladesh on the horizon, Westbury will be looking to catch the eye at Loughborough.

"If I can contribute then maybe I will have a chance of a call-up," he said. "This season has gone well. I have had a good year so far, although I haven't batted much for Himley recently because the lads above me have been in great form.

"We haven't lost many wickets and I have not been required. But I will get a chance soon."

Having represented Worcestershire at every age group from under-11s up and earned a place in the county's academy and second XI, Westbury has designs on joining the pro ranks.

"I definitely want to be a professional cricketer," he said.

"I just want to score as many runs as possible and then hopefully things will fall into place.

"I don't beat myself up when I get out but you have to be honest with yourself or else you won't improve."

And the level-headed youngster will be banking more valuable experience when he heads Down Under this winter for a stint of grade cricket in Australia.

"I am going to play for a team in Perth called Hay Park," added Westbury.

"It's something Worcestershire have fixed up for me.

"It will be a good experience and I am really looking forward to it."

And while he continues his cricket journey, Westbury is quick to pay tribute to his family and the various coaches that have helped him along the way including Himley stalwart Tony Lea and former Worcestershire duo Gavin Haynes and Paul Pridgeon.

"I have been at Himley since I was five," he said. "I have grown up there and I am quite passionate about the place.

"It's a good place to be and hopefully we can finish the season well and earn promotion back to the Premier Division.

"Tony Lea and a lot of other people there have played a big part in my development.

"My dad has also played a big role, my family have always been there to watch and support me.

"But Gavin Haynes had a massive impact on my career. He taught me everything about batting and about technique.

"And Paul Pridgeon at Shrewssbury School is a great role model and coach."

Anyone with an interest in the local cricket scene will have been aware of Westbury's talents and his continued progress up the cricketing ladder is no surprise to Himley chairman Gordon Lewis.

"It's a great honour to be selected and as a club we are really proud of Ollie," said Lewis. "He is a nice lad from a very nice family.

"He has been at the club since he was five and has played for all of our sides from the the fifth team right through to the firsts.

"It was obvious from an early age that he was very talented and that he would be a top player.

"A lot of people at the club thought that Ollie and Jamie Harris, who is now on the MCC groundstaff, could go on and make it as professionals. Hopefully this is just the start of bigger and better things for Ollie."

Westbury will be joined by two of his Worcestershire Academy team-mates tomorrow with spinner Ben Twohig and paceman Josh Tongue also selected.

Yorkshire-born Twohig also has a local link having played for Wolverhampton this season while he attends Malvern College.

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