OXFORDSHIRE’S Miles Hammond is keeping his fingers crossed that he will be selected for the England Under 19s squad for the World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in February.
The off-spinner, who lives in Oxford, has just returned from representing England in a triangular series against Pakistan and the hosts UAE.
Hammond played in four of the six group games, but was 12th man for the final as England lost by 97 runs to Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium.
However, having produced three steady spells of bowling, he is hopeful he has done enough to return to the UAE for the World Cup, which takes place from February 14-28.
When asked whether he thought he would be in the squad, the St Edward’s School pupil, who made his first-class debut for Gloucestershire last season, said: “I have no idea. I think I did all right, but we will have to see.
“I would hope so. I have got my fingers crossed.
“I was pretty happy. I thought I could have got two or three wickets more through umpiring decisions and dropped catches, but it went pretty well for me.
“It was a bit of an up and down tour from the team’s perspective. We played well in patches, but threw it away mostly with the batting.”
Hammond, who suffered with shin splints last season, admitted to being a bit rusty as he took 1-46 off six overs in England’s opening 42-run win over the UAE at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
“I hadn’t been bowling before that, so I was just trying to get into bowling in a decent rhythm,” he said.
And that experience paid off as he went on to take 2-10 off 4.5 overs in a seven-wicket win over the UAE, and 2-43 off ten overs in a 47-run defeat by Pakistan, both games played in Sharjah.
Reflecting on the the latter clash – which counted as a youth one-day international – he added: “They were a lot tougher. I played against them in the summer and didn’t do brilliantly and felt I had something to prove, which was exciting. I felt I did that.”
Hammond, who was crowned junior sportsperson of the year at the Oxfordshire Sports Awards last month, then enjoyed his best all-round game, making 32 off 20 balls and taking 1-36 off ten overs, but in a losing cause as England suffered a shock three-wicket defeat by the UAE in Dubai.
“That was unexpected,” he said. “We went into the game very confident, and we were even confident going into the last ten overs, because they needed ten or 11 an over.”
Hammond, who plays club cricket for Aston Rowant, was left out of the last group game against Pakistan, but was hopeful of being selected alongside fellow off-spinner Rob Sayer in the final against the same rivals.
“I was in the 12, but we saw the pitch and it had a little bit of green on it and we put in the extra seamer,” he added.
“I was chomping at the bit to play, but it wasn’t to be.”
However, after working with spin bowling coach Richard Dawson on tour, he believes he’s now a more streetwise player.
“I learnt more about bowling in match situations and thinking on my feet,” he said.
“I felt a lot more confident towards the end of the tour.”