England captain Alastair Cook helps Norfolk youngster Callum Taylor prepare for Australia
Norfolk and Swardeston star Callum Taylor has been getting some advice from England’s Test captain Alastair Cook in preparation for an upcoming tour of Australia with the England Under-19s.
The big-hitting 17-year-old former Cromer High School pupil was taking part in a four-day training camp in Loughborough when Cook made his surprise appearance.
But Taylor, who plays county cricket for Essex, was less awestruck than his England U19 team-mates at the net sessions at the National Cricket Performance Centre – because he had already been working with Cook at their club base in Chelmsford.
“I’d been training with him for the last two or three weeks so it wasn’t as much of a surprise to me,” Taylor told Essex CCC’s official website.
“But it was still a bit different to listen to him giving us a masterclass. I think all the lads really appreciated it.
“It was a challenging weekend up in Loughborough, but for all the right reasons. Getting up at 5am on a Sunday morning for a fitness session was a bit different. But it was great preparation for the trip to Australia.
“I’ve trained really hard for it all winter. I can’t wait.”
Taylor was a regular for the Essex second XI last season, including scoring seven sixes in an unbeaten knock of 73 against Gloucestershire in May. That followed him becoming the youngest ever century maker for Norfolk in 2013, when he scored 127 against Staffordshire, aged just 16.
His busy schedule meant limited involvement with Norfolk for Taylor last season, at the end of which he won Essex’s academy player of the year award.
Taylor signed a two-year professional deal with Essex during the close-season, before being named in the England Development Programme (EDP) squad for 2014/15 by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Having played his first games for England U17s last summer, a call to the U19s soon followed, who he will soon be heading Down Under with.
The U19s squad, led by former Somerset coach Andy Hurry, leave next week and play five one-day matches as well as a four-day “Test” at the famous WACA stadium – against an Australia U19s side coached by former England batsman Graeme Hick, who has settled in Queensland.
The four-day match will be played at the WACA from April 6-9, followed by one-day games on April 13 and 15 in Bunbury, and 18, 21 and 24 at Murdoch University.
Australia U19s are due to subsequently visit England in August for a reciprocal tour, once again consisting of a one-off four-day match and five one-day fixtures.
Following his surprise appearance, England skipper Cook said he was pleasantly surprised by the high level of players on show with the U19s.
“It’s been great to spend time with the 19s before they go to Australia,” Cook said. “It was interesting for me to see the next generation and see what level they are at. I’m pretty sure we will see a few England players from this group.
“It took me back to when I was playing for the Under-19s. Eleven or 12 years ago I was in the same boat, dreaming of playing professional cricket, so it was great to come back.”