Northamptonshire Steelbacks' Freddie Heldreich shines after being handed his senior debut
Sport at the highest level is all about grasping the opportunities that come your way – and Freddie Heldreich has done just that during the last week.
The ex-Framlingham College pupil was given his big chance on June 23 when he was included in the Northamptonshire Steelbacks side for the first time when they travelled to Durham Jets in the Vitality Blast.
And the left-arm unorthodox spinner showed just what he is all about, claiming the wicket of Ben Raine in a nine-wicket victory against a side that contained England’s Ben Stokes.
But not content with that eye-catching debut, the former Debenham resident followed it up seven days later against Leicestershire Foxes, recording figures of 2-17 in a five-wicket triumph for the Steelbacks.
On his first call-up and subsequent maiden wicket in the professional game, Heldreich said: “I got a heads up from one of the academy coaches that I was going to be part of the team while I was on the way to a second-team game.
“I was just staring at my phone, wondering if it was going to ring or not!
“In a way it felt like a weight off my shoulders. I’ve worked so hard to play in a professional game and it shows where hard work can get you.
“I just tried to settle in during my first over, but I have to admit the first couple of balls were terrifying.
“I just wanted to get it down in a decent area and not get whacked out the park.
“The left-hander wanted to take me on so I knew if I could get the ball in the right area he might make a mistake, which he did.
“It was an unbelievable feeling, having the team all celebrate with me. It was a real pinch yourself moment.”
Having made an instant impression, the Suffolk bowler felt an element of extra pressure heading into the Leicestershire clash.
The 19-year-old was keen to show he was no flash in the pan, and he did just that, snaring the wickets of Lewis Hill and Rishi Patel.
He added: “I had a feeling I would play because Leicestershire’s attack is mainly spin and they prepare a pitch suited to spinners.
“I was pretty nervous. I read the tweets after the first game, people were saying some nice things, so you want to go out and do it again.
“It’s hard in T20 cricket, there are massive ups and downs. One day you can take a couple of wickets and the next you’re getting whacked around the ground.
“There was slightly more expectation as well, but thankfully it went well.
“I never expected to take three wickets in my first two games and bowl economically either.”
Heldreich is eager to feature again before the Steelbacks’ T20 campaign comes to a close, while he also has eyes on the Royal London One-Day Cup later this summer.
And he hopes that he can do enough to achieve his ultimate goal – earning a professional deal for the 2022 campaign.
“At the start of the season I had no clue if I would play for the first team this year or not. I hoped I would, but it was never a certainty,” he said.
"A lot depends on the pitches and who we are playing against, but I’m ready if the chances come.
“Playing in the one-dayers would be great as well, and after that it’s about making a case to the coaches with my performances for that contract.”