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Bell-Drummond on Australia and making his mark for Kent

Wednesday 25th April 2012

Opening batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond has been touted as one of England’s best young batting talents by many experts in the game. The dashing right-hander has recently returned from Australia, where his performances for the England Under-19s did little to alter the fact that the Lewisham-born batsman has a huge future ahead of him.

During the Quadrangular Series – played against India, New Zealand and the hosts – Bell-Drummond excelled alongside county team-mate Adam Ball, who captained the side. The 18 year-old topped the batting averages – amassing 287 runs, from five games, at an average of more than 95. The statistics don’t lie; Bell-Drummond has an abundance of talent and he seemed to gain plenty from his first trip down under.

How was the tour?

It was very enjoyable. I found it good fun in Australia, I loved it out there. We did well as a team and I did well personally so there were lots of good things to take from the trip.

Was it your first trip to Australia?

Yes, it was my first trip. I hadn’t been there before and found it a lovely country. Everyone had good things to say, prior to me going, and it was pretty much what I expected. People had told me a fair bit about the wickets and I found them nice and bouncy; one ground in particular, Endeavour Park in Townsville (North Queensland), was bouncier than most.

What did you learn on the trip?

I learnt an awful lot and each trip with the 19s is allowing me to improve as an individual. I worked hard on my one-day skills out there and am now getting used to the different pitches around the world. The Australian wickets were certainly different and they do vary from country to country. In Bangladesh, the ball barely bounces above the knee, it spins and awful lot and there isn’t much there for the seamers. In Australia, it was a bit easier against spin bowling but the new ball bounced and did a bit more so it was different to what I have previously encountered.

England finished third in the tournament with Bell-Drummond striking 63 from 65-balls to help see off New Zealand in the third place play-off. The innings was his second half-century in the competition, to go with a magical ton made against the Aussies in the opening game. It was a knock the opener cherished and it allowed him to experience playing a long innings in a different environment.

What was the main highlight for you?

I guess it was the first game against Australia U19s. I scored 103 not out and helped see my team home. We were chasing just over 200 to win and I was delighted to be there at the end. I haven’t done that, perhaps, as much as I should but the first objective for me is to try and remain not out; whether chasing or setting.

Batting for long periods of time must be tough; both mentally and physically. Would you agree?

Yes, it is and I have worked hard on my fitness; both with Kent and England. It is important to feel in a good place – both mentally and physically. If you are in good shape then you give yourself a better chance of being able to cope and your concentration levels stand up to it as well.

Do you enjoy the travelling side?

Yes, of course. We are in a privileged position and it is enjoyable; going around the world, seeing different things and experiencing new cultures. Sometimes it can get a bit stressful and you miss home but I would love to do some more travelling overseas in the future.

In 2008 Wisden introduced a new ‘Young Schools Cricketer of the Year’ award to help raise the profile of schools cricket. This year Bell-Drummond took the honours on the back of fine performances at Millfield School and a promising start to his fledgling county career. Previous winners have gone on to play for their country at the highest level; unsurprisingly that is the same aim for the Kent batter.

You were recently selected as the Young Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year. What did that honour mean to you?

I was delighted to receive the award and very flattered. I’ve heard about some of the people that have achieved it in the past so it is a massive honour. I really enjoyed my time at Millfield School and hope to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jonny Bairstow, James Taylor and Jos Buttler (all previous winners). They are very talented players and have done brilliantly in their short careers so far.

With the April showers looking to run into May, county cricket could be set for more disruptions, and, after the heat of Australia, Bell-Drummond has found the local weather tough to handle. However, under the tutelage of new Kent coach Jimmy Adams, the batsman is ready to knuckle down and learn from such a distinguished former-player.

How are you finding the UK – after being in Australia?

It’s pretty tough! I’ve just got back and started training properly for the first time earlier today. It is very cold – I’m used to building things up nicely at the start of the year and then finding it quite nice come April. Coming back from temperatures in the mid 30’s makes it feel like winter time again.

Jimmy is now in charge. How pleased are you with his appointment?

I’m delighted – just like the other players. He has achieved so much within the game and is a great man as well. I think most people would be happy with him being appointed as their Head Coach. He can help me a lot (being a former top order batsman). He was a very good Test cricketer and had a good, solid technique so that will only benefit me in my development.

The attractive stroke-maker broke into the Kent first-team last season and impressed with his aggressive batting style. This time around Bell-Drummond is looking to gain more experience on the county circuit and reach a first major milestone for Kent.

What are your aims for the season?

The 2012 season is a strange one for me because I missed the start and will almost certainly be away later in the season again at the U19 World Cup. While with Kent, I just need to knuckle down, work nice and hard and try to get a regular place. I realise that it will be tough because the boys have started the season well. I would also like to score my maiden first class hundred for the county.

You mentioned the good start to the season. Is it good, for you, that there is more experience within the squad?

Yes – 100%. The likes of Rob Key and Geraint Jones have been brilliant so far but there are now even more experienced heads to talk to. There are a number of players that have reached the top level and I can only learn off of them. I realise that I must keep improving and it is good to be able to learn off the experienced players as I aim to keep moving forward.

After his performances during the winter, Bell-Drummond is a certain inclusion, for the England U19s, for the World Cup later in the summer. Led by county compatriot Adam Ball, the man affectionately known as 'DBD', by his team-mates, believes that if the Three Lions play their best cricket then they can lift the trophy.

Finally, a quick word on the U19s World Cup. The tournament takes place in Australia, in August. Do you go there confident?

Yes, we do. We have a talented group of players so I think we have an excellent chance of winning it. Personally, I hope to continue my successes and help the team win the competition. I really think we can do it as we have seen most of the teams now and none of them are world beaters. If we play good cricket then we have a very good chance.