Velani keen to build on Essex debut

PUBLISHED: 11:00 04 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:20 04 October 2013

Kishen Velani in batting action for Essex at Hampshire last week. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

Kishen Velani in batting action for Essex at Hampshire last week. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League

Kishen Velani made his first class debut for County side Essex last week against Hampshire and now he’s had that experience he is champing at the bit to add to it next season.

It may have been an innings and 31-run defeat as their hopes of promotion to Division One of the County Championship were extinguished, but for Velani it will always be a special memory, despite initially thinking he was just going to be 12th man.

“I was on the team coach and felt it would just be an experience to be with the squad as a 12th man,” said Velani.

“But when Paul Grayson (first team coach) pulled me aside and said I was playing I was shocked. I had to focus myself on the game, but the rest of the lads were great in welcoming me and making me feel part of the team.”

The 19-year-old, who lives in Snaresbrook, admitted it was a stark contrast to any game he’s played a part in during his fledgling career, bowling two overs at the cost of eight runs and scoring 13 and nine in his two knocks with the bat.

“I was more nervous when I came in to bat then I was with the ball,” he added. “I was disappointed with how I got out in both innings’ but I’ll learn from that. And though it was only two overs it was nice to have a bowl. It’s a massive step up from second XI cricket but it’s given me the taste for more.

And with a confirmed offer of a two-year contract from Essex, Velani is now hoping to have a solid winter under his belt, which could see him feature for England under-19s on their tour of either Sri Lanka or Dubai and in World Cup action in United Arab Emirates.

Then he will look to make further progress in the four-day format of the game.

“I have had the experience now and I want to make sure I get more of it next season,” he added.

“It’s a big winter for me and I’ll be putting in a lot of hard work, whether that’s at home training or with the under-19s at the World Cup and their other tour, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Essex as a club has certainly blooded its youngsters over the last couple of years, with the likes of Reece Topley, Tymal Mills and Ben Foakes all being included in the England performance programme squad.

And Velani isn’t the only local cricketer to be honoured on the county scene with South Woodford’s Nick Browne also making his county debut this season, while Ilford’s Saf Imtiaz won the Academy player of the year award.

“There is a number of youngster at the club and it’s great to be around those guys,” he said.

“I know the local boys like Nick and Saf very well. We share a car sometimes when we are heading to training and it’s great that the local area has produced so many talented cricketers for the County to choose from.”

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