Willis reflects on England U19 Tour

Thursday 10th February 2011

After a long and challenging tour of Sri Lanka, Kent youngsters Adam Ball and Daniel Bell-Drummond have returned home following duty with the England U19’s. We caught up with the county's High Performance Director Simon Willis as he gave his opinions on how the duo performed overseas.
The young Three Lions held their Asian counterparts to a draw in the two match Test-series, but the home side then ran out comfortable 3-1 winners in the five match ODI series to seal the bragging rights. Despite suffering defeat in the limited overs matches, Willis still feels the experience will benefit both Ball and Bell-Drummond: "I think the tour went as expected for Adam and Daniel. It had its challenges; both individually and collectively as a team. Some of the challenges Adam and Daniel coped with very well and others, particularly in one day cricket, they felt there was some room for improvement."

One memorable moment for Ball came in the third ODI in Colombo when, despite being one of the younger members of the side, the all-rounder was asked to lead the side, something Willis felt he deserved: "Adam showed some great character and consistent performances; particularly in the Test match series. He was very proud to get the opportunity to lead his country and he learnt a lot about himself through that responsibility."

Bell-Drummond, who signed his first professional contract at the St Lawrence Ground last September, found things a little harder going on the tour opening the batting, especially against the skilled Sri Lankan spin attack. Willis knows there is room for improvements as the 17-year-old prepares for life in the big-time with the Kent first-team: "Daniel’s tour probably wasn’t as profitable as he would’ve hoped for. He kept getting starts, and recorded a number of scores between 20 and 40, but not the match winning performances that he talked about before he left. He was happy with the improvement in his fielding; particularly the direct run out in the first Test match. I know he learnt a lot throughout the tour, particularly how he needs to develop his game against spin bowling."

Sri Lanka has always been a tough place to play cricket and with the experience now under the Kent players belts they will now be looking to further their games as pre-season approaches rapidly. Willis believes the duo will progress quickly and have taken many positives from their time away: "Overall I would say that the tour was hugely beneficial. We are only five weeks away from pre-season and the time over in Sri Lanka will gear both players up nicely. They now have a short time to reflect on what they have learnt and what they need to put in place before the start of the new season."