Ball on his hopes and dreams for the future, his winter with England and all things Kent

Wednesday 9th May 2012

Men’s First Team

England Under 19 Captain and Kent all-rounder Adam Ball talks to local student, Harry Wallabout his hopes and dreams for the future, his winter with England and all things Kent.

Ball spent the winter away on tour with his England under 19 side with fellow Kent teammate Daniel Bell-Drummond, first in Bangladesh and then to Australia, and many positives can be taken from the trip;

“They’ve (the tours) been very beneficial for me being able to go away and experience foreign conditions in both extremes. Bangladesh, not for the fortune of living in the hotel for three weeks to a month and then Australia which is another extreme, your able to go out and see a bit more and have a little bit more freedom like you are in England. In terms of from a cricket perspective I learnt how to play in the subcontinent and also out in Australia, which has benefitted my game massively and hopefully I can bring what I’ve learnt back to England.”

The England Under 19’s are part of the ECB’s Elite Player Development Programme to help along and create the next generation of England players not just from a playing point of view but the mental side as well;

“A big emphasis of the ECB is to work on mental toughness, you're taught how to cope with pressured situations and also we work at a very high intensity so that we're able to experience high pressure situations so that when we come across them in the middle we're able to cope with that. But the ECB is a phenomenal, unbelievable set up and it’s a great privilege to be part of it.”

Being England Under 19 Captain is not just an honour distributed to any average player, previous captains of the side have included Michael Atherton, Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff and Marcus Trescothick and you might think that it would add pressure on the 19 year old's shoulders, but when I asked him about it, he was taken aback;

“To be fair I didn’t actually know that until you said that. To hear that them boys have done the same job as what I’ve done and to see what they’ve done in their careers is, I suppose quite a scary thought, but hopefully I can go on and do the same things and become a world class cricketer like them boys. But obviously I've still got quite a lot of work to do to get to that stage, I'm heading in the right direction and I've got to work hard to get to that point.”

But regardless of whether he knew quite how closely he was following in his idol’s footsteps, it has also been a dream to be like those mentioned above;

“My aspirations as a cricketer are to go on and do those things. As a young cricketer coming through I look up to them people and have a look at their careers and the way they’ve gone about their business, so I'm going to keep trying and progress in the game and keep working hard to get to that stage.”

Last season was a difficult one for Kent, with the Club in a rebuilding phase, success in the middle was limited apart from nearly reaching the Twenty 20 finals day, falling at the quarter final hurdle to eventual winners Leicestershire, but Ball mentions that it was a good experience nonetheless;

“It was a great experience for me because I was able to get a good run in the team, play with some experienced players and I was able to just go out there and express myself. As a youngster coming through there wasn’t so much pressure on my behalf to perform, but I had quite a successful season in the first team especially in the one day game, which enabled me to learn a hell of a lot. And I was able to take them experiences and go and perform for the under 19’s. The best part of last season was playing in the Twenty 20’s with Charl Langeveldt, Azhar Mahmood and Wahab Riaz who are all world class cricketers especially in the Twenty 20 game, so I learnt a hell of a lot last season and I want to take that into this season.”

With Paul Farbrace movingon at the end of last season, the appointment of West Indies batting legend Jimmy Adams has seen many new faces and a new focus at the Club which has set up a healthy competition for places in a so far, successful team;

“I think it’s a very good time to be at Kent because there’s a few new guys come in and there is a battle for places which I suppose gives us an edge because people aren’t going to be handed places in the team on a plate, they’re going to have to work hard and if that means playing in the second team for potentially a season and putting in some good performances in the second team to earn the right of getting a place in the first team. But for the Club especially, yeah I think it’s a really exciting stage.”

In a Twenty 20 bowling attack with many experienced and exciting options, Ball had great success bowling the middle overs to contain the opponents in tandem with Darren Stevens and James Tredwell in particular. Despite being an all-rounder he has been limited to batting low down in the order with the many batting resources that the Club possess’:

“I think with the one day stuff I just need to carry on what I was doing and cement that place in the side as a one day bowler, but also I want to push myself up the order in that one day team to become a number six or number seven batsman rather than a lower order batter, I think that’s my main aim throughout the season really,although I'm probably in the team for my bowling most of the time I need to put in some good performances with the bat and push my way up the order.”

Despite reiterating that a lot of work is needed to achieve his dreams, at this rate if he keeps impressing on the England ladder and new county coach Adams he should be well on his way and I asked him where he would like to be in 5 to 10 years from now;

“I’d like to cement my place at Kent and have a few successful seasons at Kent and hopefully I’ll be pushing for a place in the England team. To become an international, that’s the main goal for any young person playing cricket so I'm going to look to play for my country and my main dream is to play in an Ashes series, so if I play in one of them within the next five to ten years then I’ll be over the moon.”

Later this summer Ball and Bell-Drummond should be heading back to Australia for the under 19 World Cup, and the experiences of the winter just gone should help England out;

Yeah I think we’ve just had a great experience this winter out in Australia winning four out of five games which is a massive achievement for us because we haven’t done well of late with the 19’s, but to go out there and beat the likes of Australia, New Zealand and India, three big teams that we’ll meet in the World Cup sends a massive message out to the other countries that the England team are a very strong team and are going to put up a good fight and have a good chance of winning that World Cup.”

With another one of Kent’s young stars, Matt Coles receiving international recognition, being picked for the England Lions squad, it would appear that the mix of experience and youth has been successful for Adams with the unbeaten start to the season providing perfect proof.

Photo: Sarah Ansell