Dillon Pennington today surveyed a “surreal few months” in which he has made massive strides forward ahead of Sunday’s Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final at Blackfinch New Road.
The County’s Academy product can reflect on:
1) Being propelled into England’s Under-19 World Cup squad, playing in five of the six games and being trusted with the new ball.
2) Signing his first professional contract for the County – a two year deal which kicked in from June 1.
3) Making his first team debut for Worcestershire and being praised by the Rapids Head Coach Kevin Sharp for his performance in the nail-biting One-Day Cup final group match with Warwickshire.
Now Pennington would dearly love to add to that list by playing in front of a full house in the semi-final with either Notts Outlaws or Kent Spitfires who clash today (Thursday).
He said: “It was unbelievable to make my first team debut in such a game.
“I found out on the morning of the game I was playing. I’d had a bit of a sleepless night beforehand anyway just wondering if I was playing!
“When I heard I was playing, it was an unbelievable feeling. I was so surprised and it has given me a massive confidence boost that they have trusted me and they obviously think I’ve got the ability to be included in the team.
“I’d had a bit of an ankle issue the last couple of weeks and luckily I got through some overs for the Seconds and bowled alright and showed that I was fit.
“When I said at the start of the season that I wanted to make my debut this season, I didn’t think it would actually happen so soon!
“Making my debut, with my family there, my mum and dad, and my grandparents, helped to make it an awesome day. I won’t forget it.
“I would love to have chance to play in the semi-final although I will take nothing for granted. I just hope I put myself up for selection for next Sunday. I’d absolutely love to be part of the semi-final.”
Pennington was the seventh bowler used by the Rapids and he says Moeen Ali – standing in as captain for the injured Joe Leach – was a great help.
He said: “I think I did okay. I had a bit of time in the field before I bowled to just chill out and get used to the surroundings.
“Mo was unbelievable to be with. He kept me being simple with what I did with the ball, kept talking to me which was the main thing.
“I like to be calm about things and I was calm because I was by him. He was a great help.
“It was a great feeling to be alongside an international player, and I’ve always looked up to him, and I couldn’t believe I was standing in the middle of Edgbaston ready to bowl with him standing next to me.”
Pennington experienced the rivalry between the counties when he went out to bat at number 10 in a tense atmosphere.
He said: “The whole 50 overs of our innings until I went in I was shredded. I was nervous and couldn’t sit still. I kept walking around the changing room.
“When I went out to bat, one supporter said good luck and the next one was a Warwickshire fan and he said ‘I hope you get out’ and that was the first experience I had of getting some stick off the crowd!
“Barny (Ed Barnard) at the other end was unbelievable for me even though I was going through a little bit of a rough patch but like Mo he was chilled out and told me ‘loads of times, loads of balls to get these.’”
Pennington said: “It’s been a surreal few months and everything that has happened has given me so much confidence.
“Playing in the (Under-19s) World Cup was a fantastic experience. Coming up against the best players in the world in your age group makes you feel a lot more confident in yourself.
“Then when I got back to Worcestershire they gave me my first pro contract and knowing they wanted to take me on full-time, was also a really huge confidence boost.
“I just want to keep on learning. The Academy was brilliant, training three or four times a week with all the professional staff and the coaches.
“Second team cricket is also a big learning curve, playing alongside some top pros and against quality players and things like game awareness have really come on for me.”