Worcestershire Academy product Adam Finch has made massive strides after admitting he “stumbled into cricket” less than five years ago.
Right arm paceman Finch admits he was more of a football fan when at the age of 14 he was asked to make up the numbers in a club game of soft ball cricket.
It was the start of a rapid rise up the cricketing ladder by Finch who is currently completing his A levels at Oldswinford Hospital School.
Now he already has an ICC Under-19 World Cup under his belt – in New Zealand this winter – after making his initial breakthrough at that level and also with the County Seconds last summer.
Finch served notice of his potential when taking 5-19 against a powerful Yorkshire Seconds side at RGS Worcester including an attack of Ryan Sidebottom, Ben Coad, Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett.
Now he is looking to establish himself in the Seconds, to try and earn another Under-19 call-up for the summer series versus South Africa – and ultimately strive to challenge for a senior spot at Blackfinch New Road.
But Finch is aware of the production line of young pace bowling talent at the County and the challenges that in itself provides.
Finch said: “I was about 14. I was a football fan, I played football in the Saturday and Sunday League and kind of stumbled into cricket really.
“My godfather’s children were playing a game at one of the local clubs and they were short of players and rang up my dad and see if I wanted a game – and I loved it from there.
“It kind of kick-started from there. That was with Trysull and Seisdon CC, it was a soft ball game, everyone got a bat, everyone got a bowl, and I really enjoyed it, thought it was fun.”
Finch has climbed the ladder after becoming part of the Worcestershire system and he took great satisfaction from his Seconds performance against the Tykes ahead of making his Under-19s bow against India.
He said: “That was a great moment, a monkey off my back in a sense because you always want to get five wickets.
“To get it against such a strong Yorkshire team was really enjoyable.
“India were tough opponents. They have got some serious players. That was a learning experience as well because it shows you what the best in our age group are like.”
Fast forward to the winter and Finch was playing with County team-mate Dillon Pennington in a Tri-Series Under-19s competition in South Africa when he received news of his World Cup call-up.
He said: “There were a lot of nervous faces around and I was one of them! Dillon and I were sat next to each other and both weren’t sure what was going on.
“It is a kind of a horrible situation to be in but it was great to be selected. I just wanted to let my mum and dad, friends and family know.
“I know my mum and dad were both on edge as well so, as soon as we were out of the meeting, it was on the phone to them.”
Finch played in three Under-19 World Cup matches against Canada, Bangladesh and New Zealand, sharing the new ball with Pennington in the latter of those fixtures.
He said: “The World Cup was a really enjoyable experience, just trying to learn from that really and bring it back into the summer here, just developing and growing my game.
“It is really good to test yourself against the best players in your age group in the world. You can see what everyone else is like and see the challenges you’ve got ahead.
“It is a good benchmark for yourself. My mum and dad watched all the games on TV at home.
“You knew people were watching but once you get into that focus, you lose all of that and are just thinking about what you are trying to do.
“It was really enjoyable to play alongside Dill(on) out there, represent England together. It is something I’ll look back on for the rest of my life as one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.”
Finch would like to face the Proteas again this summer after tackling them three times in the pre World Cup Tri-Series.
He said: “There is a lot of competition around but if I have a good start to the summer, hopefully I’ll put my hand up, put my name in the hat, and give myself the best chance.
“Is the aim to establish myself in the Seconds? Again there is such a great bowling attack at Worcestershire so it is going to be challenging so I’ll get my exams out the way, and really go from there.”
Finch admits himself and Pennington and the other up and coming bowlers at Blackfinch New Road act as a driving force to each other.
He said: “You definitely work off each other. There is a good unity amongst the group, especially spending all that time with Dill(on) in the winter.
“You learn to work off each other and kind of enjoy each other’s success and watching Dill(on) do so well in the World Cup was so nice and he kind of deserves it.
“He is really talented. He went and showed what he is about, what he is made of and that was really good to see.”
And the long term goal for Finch? He said: “There are so many good bowlers at Worcestershire but the first team is everyone’s aim.
“You want to represent your county at first class level. That is definitely the aim.”