Ed Barnard is looking forward to his first full season as a fully fledged professional with Worcestershire – and he is aiming to challenge for a first team spot.

All-rounder Barnard – and wicket-keeper-batsman Joe Clarke – have asked not to be considered for the England Under-19s this winter and instead hope to stake their county claims during the pre-season trip to Abu Dhabi in March.

Barnard is currently playing grade cricket in Australia for Queanbeyan District in the Australian Capital Territority first grade.

He topped their bowling averages at Christmas with 15 wickets at an average of 21.73 and shortly before the festive break scored his first century for the club against Joe Leach's side, North Canberra Gungahlin.

After scoring four runs in his first four innings, Barnard gradually found his form and went into the festive season with 234 runs at an average of 29.25.

We sent Newcastle United fan Ed a series of questions Down Under and here is the first part of his response – with the second part to follow in the next couple of days.

Question: You must have been happy to get that first century of the winter under your belt just before Christmas?

Answer: Yes, I was extremely pleased to get that first big score because I felt like I had been hitting the ball well and had just not gone on to get that big score.

Question: How do you feel the winter has gone for you batting-wise and bowling-wise. You are top of the bowling averages?

Answer: I had an indifferent start with the bat but after the first couple of weeks I settled and my batting has felt as good as it's ever been. I've been really pleased with the way I've bowled and the opportunities I've been given.

Question: What is the standard of play like, how does it compare with second eleven or league cricket in England.

Answer: I'd say it's below second team cricket but similar to league cricket which is still a strong standard.

Question: Has it been good for your cricket development playing Down Under this winter?

Answer: For sure, I feel the best way to improve is by playing matches so having the opportunity to play all year around, and on different pitches, can only be of benefit.

Question: Do you hope to push for a place in the side this season. That is what Joe Clarke is aiming for, by scoring heavily this winter and in second team cricket.

Answer: Yes that's the main aim of this coming season, to push myself and try and get into contention to play some first team cricket for Worcestershire.

Question: Do you see yourself as someone pushing for a genuine all-rounder spot. With Gareth Andrew and Joe Leach, there is good competition?

Answer: Yes, that's how I view my game, as being able to offer in all departments and, with Gaz and Leachy both extremely good players with experience, it is great to have that competition but also gives a great opportunity to learn from them.

Question: I believe you and Joe asked not to be considered for the England Under-19s in March because you want to go on pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi and challenge for a place?

Answer: Yes I felt as though my best opportunity to push for first team cricket as quickly as possible would be to make sure I went pre-season to Abu Dhabi and be with the lads as much as possible.

*Tune into the Worcestershire CCC website for part two of Ed's Question and Answer session.