England call for Wanstead youngster

Kishen Velani will join up with the England under-19s for their tour of Bangladesh

Essex and Wanstead cricketer Kishen Velani is relishing the experience he’ll gain after his call-up to the England under-19 squad for their tour to Bangladesh later this month.

The 17-year-old made his debut for the under-19s last summer when South Africa toured England in July and recorded scores of 34 and 54 in two of the 50-over matches.

Velani, part of Essex’s Graham Gooch Academy for the forthcoming season, was shocked when he received the call from England under-19 head coach Tim Boon.

“I was with my brother and cousin when I received the news and it came as a big shock,” said the youngster, who also plays first-team cricket for Wanstead.

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“Obviously I am under the age group and there were six of us in that position, but when I got the call from Tim Boon it was something I hadn’t expected.

“I have spent time with all of the players in the squad before when we played South Africa in the summer.

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“I thought I had performed quite well in those games, hitting 54 in one and it was a great experience to get the exposure at that high level.”

The all-rounder was joined in the national squad by Essex team-mate Ben Foakes, and the duo have spent time training together, alongside members of the first team.

Velani and the England team arrive in Bangladesh on January 13 ahead of a warm-up match and seven one-day internationals on the tour and he hopes to gain a lot from the experience of playing in the extreme heat and bowling on wickets that will be conducive to spin.

“The main aim is to obviously develop my game and get as much wicket practice as possible,” he added.

“It’ll be a good experience in learning how to deal with the heat and the spinner-favoured wickets in Bangladesh.

“Over the last week-and-a-half I have had a lot of practice against spin to try and prepare me for what is to come when I am out there.

“Both Wanstead and Essex have been great in helping me progress and have given me the chance to train as much as possible.”

Cricket has always been in Velani’s blood, with dad Sam and his brothers also having played for Wanstead and the club’s first-team captain Arfan Akram also expressed delight at his call-up.

“It is a proud moment for everyone at the club with what Kishen has achieved in the national under-19 set up at such a young age,” said Akram.

“For me he is a top-order bat and a first or second change medium fast bowler, but his progress has been great.

“He’ll learn a lot from the experience in Bangladesh and I hope he gets on well.”

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