Northamptonshire and Suffolk bowler Freddie Heldreich eager to show how he's improved from Australia trip
Having rubbed shoulders with the Australian Test team this winter, Freddie Heldreich is confident he will return to English shores a much improved player.
The 19-year-old left-arm unorthodox spinner, who was raised in Debenham before moving to Badingham, has spent the last few months honing his skills at the Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy in Adelaide.
It has provided Heldreich with a real insight into life as a professional cricketer, training all week before putting that work into practice on match days.
And the trip was capped in December when he was one of five youngsters picked to put some of Australia’s biggest names through their paces in the nets ahead of their Test series against India.
“I actually planned to go to university at Loughborough but I didn’t get my first choice because of the way results were done with the Covid situation,” said the former Framlingham College pupil.
“I only wanted to go to Loughborough – it’s the best place for my cricket development. I was busy trying to reapply for different courses there when the academy got in touch. They’d heard about me and asked if I wanted to go to Australia.
“My ambition is to have a cricketing career so it seemed like a great opportunity. I actually ended getting into Loughborough a couple of weeks before I came out to Australia, but I’ve been able to postpone that for a year.
“The whole experience has been unreal. I’ve been living pretty much a professional lifestyle.
“It took a bit of getting used to. I’m used to training three days a week back home, but in Australia’s it’s been pretty much every day for five or so hours and then matches.
“There was some major fatigue to begin with but I’ve really benefited and it has set me up well for the season back home.”
Traditionally, Australia is not a place were spin bowlers tend to thrive. They did of course produce one of the greatest of all time in Shane Warne, but by and large the flat pitches are more conducive to pace bowling.
However, it’s a challenge that Heldreich has relished, as well as honing other parts of his game.
“When you think of Australia you think of flat decks, no spin and pitches that are very up and down – that’s exactly what it’s like,” added the teenager, who arrived back in England on Wednesday.
“But I’ve worked closely with Brad Young (former Australia international). He’s a left-arm spinner and we’ve done a lot of work together.
“If you spin one in 10 overs you’re happy, so it’s been about making slight changes. Bowling a bit straighter, working the pads and changing pace – that sort of thing.
“I’ve been working on my fielding and batting as well. I don’t want to just be Freddie Heldreich the spinner, I want to be someone that can offer runs in the tail and be a good fielder as well.
“Out here I’ve come up against professionals, I’ve bowled against pretty much everyone in the Test team apart from Steve Smith – he does his own thing – and Big Bash players. There has been so much to learn, with bat and ball.”
Once he has gone through his quarantine period and provided negative Covid-19 tests, Heldreich will head back to Northamptonshire, whom he joined a few years ago as part of the academy.
Having been around the first-team set-up at times last summer, the hope this year is that he can do enough to put himself in contention for a place in the senior side.
“They wanted me to come back from Australia a little earlier to get prepared for some games in April and I was happy to do that,” said Heldreich, who has signed for EAPL side Copdock & Old Ipswichian having previously played for Woolpit. “Last year I was around the Twenty20 squad a lot on match days, warming up in the nets before Blast games.
“That’s the hope (to break into the first team). I feel like I’m much wiser and more skilful going into this year.
“If I could get a game in the first team it would be fantastic, but I’ve also got a big season for the seconds this year.
“The fixtures have come through and hopefully I can take some wickets and make an impression.
“The aim is to get a professional contract in September, so it’s a big year.”
While his responsibilities at Northamptonshire will take up much of his time over the coming months, Heldreich is also eager to continue his association with Suffolk CCC.
He said: “I’ve spoken to Andy Northcote (Suffolk head coach) and he’s said that he’s interested in getting me involved, especially in the white-ball games – 50 overs and T20.
“The Minor Counties game is always growing and 100 per cent I’d like to be playing again this summer.
“It would be great to get some wickets for Suffolk and help them win matches.”