Lord's outing for Freddie
Freddie Heldreich is rarely overcome by nerves when it comes to all things cricket.
He may only be 16 years of age, but the bowling all-rounder has already represented Suffolk’s second string and under-17s, as well as having trained alongside the county’s senior players.
Heldreich also has a vast experience of life in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship and currently turns out for Division One side Woolpit.
However, by his own admission, this usually cool, calm and collected teenager was knocked off his stride when earlier this month he was invited to Lord’s, where he would bowl at the likes of England captain Joe Root and the country’s leading Test run-scorer of all time, Alastair Cook.
The Badingham resident got the call after his performance for Woolpit at Coggeshall had captured the attention of Alan Butcher, who in turn contacted England coach Paul Farbrace.
Heldreich is a left-arm chinaman – a rare commodity in this country – and with Root’s men looking to prepare themselves for the threat of India’s unorthodox spinner Kuldeep Yadav, he was summoned for a net session at the home of English cricket.
“It was completely nerve-racking,” said Heldreich, who turns 17 next month.
“I usually sleep on the way to cricket matches, but I did not get any sleep at all.
“It is not every day you get the opportunity to bowl at such big names.
“We arrived early and so we got to see the players warming up – it was all a bit surreal.
“I got to bowl at every one of the players except James Anderson and Stuart Broad, which was amazing.
“It was whole different level to what I am used to, but I really enjoyed it.”
The Framlingham College pupil started off his cricketing life as a seam bowler, but he soon impressed coaches with his ability to make the ball deviate from left to right after pitching.
It is a skill that has won him admirers at County Championship Division Two outfit Northamptonshire, for whom Heldreich is hopeful of representing at second-team level in the near future.
Being a part of the set-up at the County Ground has only served to improve Heldreich, as did the recent experience with England, and he is hoping it is all leading to a long and distinguished career within the game.
“I was bowling at the same time in the nets as Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid,” he added.
“(Coach) Saqlain Mushtaq was watching on and gave me lots of tips and feedback.
“He was praising me for the good things I’d done but also pointed out where I could improve.
“I already fell like a better bowler for the experience.
“It is a massive step bowling at 17-year-olds to bowling at top international players. You have to adapt your game and that can only improve you. It is a dream to play for England one day, but it is very much one step at a time.
“The fact that I am a left-arm chinaman might help me – not many counties have them.”