Express & Star

Former Shrewsbury School student Issy Wong ready for Edgbaston roar after meteoric rise

It really has been a remarkable few weeks for Issy Wong.

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At the end of June the former Shrewsbury School pupil marked her Test debut for England with two wickets.

The past few weeks have also seen her make her international debuts in the ODI and T20 formats of the game.

And now the fast-bowler is set to represent her country in her home city of Birmingham after being included in England's Commonwealth Games squad.

Having only been a professional cricketer for year, Wong admits she is lost for words at just how much her life has changed over the past few months.

But she is loving every second – and admits she can't wait to walk out at Edgbaston in front of a passionate home crowd.

"It’s been remarkable, I’ve honestly not got the words," Wong said when asked to describe the last month.

"Last year was pretty unbelievable, my first full year as a professional cricketer. I was still decompressing that.

"Then I started the season pretty well with Central Sparks and then went on to play all three forms of international cricket.

"I haven’t got many words, it’s been a dream come true. I’ve not even begun processing it.

"And now here I am set to play in the Commonwealth Games, a Commonwealth Games that is taking place in my home city. How can I describe that?

"I watched my first ever game of cricket at Edgbaston, I went to my first Warwickshire trial in the indoor centre across the car park.

"Edgbaston has been home ever since I started playing, so to play cricket in the Commonwealth Games at Edgbaston will mean the world to me."

Despite the success she has enjoyed over the last year, Wong has tried not to let her thoughts drift to the Commonwealth Games.

"It was almost like my guilty pleasure," she continued.

"Every now and again I’d think it’s the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – imagine, just imagine.

"But then I gave my myself a slap on the wrist and told myself to keep my feet on the ground.

"It’s something I’ve always felt would be amazing but I never thought it would happen.

"Then the way the Test series went and what happened in the ODI, I thought maybe it could happen.

"But it was only when I got the email that I really allowed myself to get excited."

While Wong was born in London, she has been raised in the Midlands.

She attended Shrewsbury School, in Shropshire, where she was guided by head of cricket Andy Barnard – who retired earlier this month after 20 years in the role.

And Wong said the school – and Barnard – have played a huge role in her development.

"I boarded at Shrewsbury School for five years," Wong said.

"I spoke to Barnard right when I started and he told me: 'if you want to do this then we are going to do it.'

"He told me if some things didn’t work out then we could go down other avenues.

"The phrase he used was ‘there is more than one way to skin a cat’.

"I took that as if you want something enough, you will find a way to do it.

"It might not be the same route the next person takes but if you really want it you’ll get there.

"That was a really positive message."

Before her time at Shrewsbury School, Wong attended Bentley Heath Primary School in Solihull.

While their she was taught by the mum of fellow professional cricketer Marie Kelly.

And she was another teacher who helped Wong get to where she is today.

"I started playing cricket at Bentley Heath when I was about six," the Birmingham Phoenix player side.

"There was a cricket after school club and I just thought it was great, I got to whack balls as hard as I could and roll around in the mud. It was fantastic.

"Then I started playing for Warwickshire under 11s but I was nine when I made it in.

"I remember my Year Four teacher Mrs Kelly, she is Marie Kelly’s mum.

"Marie was with us at the Sparks last season. I’ve known her mum longer than I have known her, she was my teacher in Year Four.

"And she was always so supportive, she wanted me to get into cricket properly rather than just go to an after school club.

"A lot of credit has to go to Mrs Kelly."

A big sports fan, Wong supports Liverpool and NBA basketball team the Golden State Warriors.

And back in 2012 she attended multiple events at the London Olympics before attending the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two years later

"I managed to get to quite a few events in 2012 and I guess you could say it inspired a generation because here I am 10 years later at the Commonwealth Games," she told the PA news agency.

"We actually have a house in London so we stayed down for the whole of the Games and, even if we weren't there, there was so much to do and it was amazing.

"I remember watching lots of other sports. You get into it more in the multi-sport competitions and the atmosphere that goes with it. Hopefully cricket can benefit from that as well.

"I think it’s really important that it's going to be on terrestrial TV.

"It’s about making sport accessible. Sport should be for everyone and the fact it’s on free to air TV, I believe, will be massive."