Shozair Ali’s Boy’s Own story will continue on Thursday January 12 when he flies to Bangladesh with the England Under-19 squad.
The 19-year-old Warwickshire seamer only started playing cricket five years ago but he has made such rapid and impressive progress that he is in line to make his England Under-19 debut in Bangladesh.
Less than five years ago Ali was playing for his father’s club side Azad Sports on Calthorpe Park in the shadow of Edgbaston where facilities are at their most basic.
“There was no pavilion and there wasn’t a pitch that had been rolled and prepared, just grass to be honest,” Ali said. “The good thing for a seam bowler is that the ball moves around a lot.”
Ali also played for Queensbridge School in Moseley where his performances, including a career-best of seven for 12, persuaded his teacher, Rob White, to put Ali forward for Warwickshire’s district trials.
Warwickshire were quick to identify that they had a potential talent on their hands and they recruited him to the county academy at Edgbaston.
Within a year of playing parks cricket Ali was opening the bowling for England Under-15s against an England Schools Under-16 side at Lord’s.
He has since played Birmingham League cricket for Moseley and latterly Walmley, the club where England one-day international Chris Woakes made his mark.
A stress fracture of his left shin prevented Ali playing any county second team cricket last season but he regained fitness in time to play in England Under-19 trial matches in August which helped him to secure his place on the Bangladesh trip.
“It’s going to be a massive year for me because I’m looking to try to get a contract with Warwickshire,” said Ali, who is still an academy pupil.
“I missed most of last season because of injury but I showed what I can do in the matches I played when I came back. I’m now feeling 100 per cent, I went on a training camp to South Africa last month and I can’t wait to get out to Bangladesh.”
Ali trained alongside senior England internationals Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Chris Tremlett and Graham Onions out in Potchefstroom last month and picked up some handy hints which he hopes will benefit him in Bangladesh.
“The England players were very helpful and approachable and it was a great experience to see how they train and prepare,” Ali said.
“I’ve never toured an Asian country before so it was useful to get an insight into what sort of pitches we are likely to play on in Bangladesh, which will probably be slow and low and the ball will reverse swing.”
Picture: Phil Britt