Ball trying his best to juggle country v county

England Under-19 captain and burgeoning Kent all-rounder Adam Ball is hoping his busy 2011 schedule will lead to success for country and silverware for his county.

Ball, a left-arm seam bowler and a well-organised right-hand bat, is enjoying his spell in charge of a young England side currently crossing swords in a seven-game ODI series with South Africa. Yet, in the background, Ball is also keen to help resurrect the fortunes of his county.

In acknowledging his pride in leading his country, Ball said: “I wouldn’t say I’ve always wanted to be a captain, but now that I am I look upon it as a progression in my career and part of my learning curve as I move through the age groups, both for Kent and England.

“I like the fact that I’m the leader. The fact that I’ve had a little bit more experience at first-class level than the rest of the lads means I can pass a few tips and hints on to them. That way, we can all progress as cricketers and as a team.

The 18-year-old added: “I’ve only been skipper for a handful of games so far and I don’t think as yet it has affected my performances as such. I just go out and hope to do the basics well with bat and ball. It’s certainly been an added challenge, though, as I’ve had to think on my feet a lot more with setting fields and planning for the other bowlers. So far, I feel I’ve coped pretty well with it.

“I’ve felt all the way through that England and South Africa are well-matched teams. We both have quality players and it all depends on which of those performs best on the day, and quite often the results have hinged on one amazing performance with bat or ball for either side.”

Ball, an A level pupil earlier this summer at Beths Grammar School in Bexley, also conceded he had felt slightly torn by leaving Kent’s Friends Life t20 qualification campaign in order to lead England Under-19s.

He said: “It’s a hard one personally because obviously I’d love to be playing for England without causing any upset with Kent and vice-versa. It is tricky, because at my age you think of your county first; they pay my salary and are helping me to progress in the game. But then, you have the honour of playing for your country, against guys the same age as me, who are the best of their age-groups in their countries.

“To compete against the best in the world, be it here or at the U19 World Cup, and to get a good team spirit going is superb, so I would never have wanted to miss out on that either. At this early stage in my career I’m learning literally with every game I play. The trick is to make sure I take those experiences and make sure I use them to progress my own skills.”

Looking forward to his Kent return in early August, however, Ball added: “I hope I’ll be selected for the Friends Life t20 quarter-final against Leicestershire, and then the County Championship game against Surrey at Canterbury. I’ve never even been to a Canterbury Week festival match let alone played in one, so it would be yet another great experience for me.”

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