Worcestershire paceman Jack Shantry has recalled his days playing alongside Joe Hart – at cricket and football – and believes the England goalkeeper had all the ingredients to be a successful first class cricketer.
Hart spent two years on the Worcestershire Academy under the late Damian D'Oliveira before opting for football as his preferred profession via Shrewsbury, Manchester City and England.
But Shantry had seen enough of Hart as a cricketer to think he could also have made a success in that sphere as well should he have chosen it as his number one sport.
Shantry, who this week signed a new three year contract for Worcestershire, said: "We were good friends when I was at school from the ages of maybe seven to 13.
"We played junior cricket together for Shrewsbury Under-13s and Under-15s and we were the national champions and we also played football for the same football team.
"We went to the same primary school as well (Oxon CE Primary School). We were good mates when I was young.
"I still keep a keen eye on how he is doing and I'm so pleased for how well he is doing for England and Manchester City.
"He was on the Worcestershire Academy, he was the school year above me and he was always far more talented than I was at both football and cricket.
"I'm sure if he had chosen cricket over football, he would have been a very successful cricketer.
"He could have been a good county cricketer – and possibly more. He was a very fast bowler and he smashed the ball.
"He had all the components to have had a successful cricket career."
Shantry added: "I remember going to his first game for Shrewesbury Town and they were playing in the Conference (v Gravesend and Northfleet April 2004).
"He played very well and I thought he was going to be a good keeper but I never knew enough about football to be aware he was going to be the best in the country. I'm sure anyone did really.
"He was always very tall and very athletic and he had a good personality and his feet on the ground.
"I played for Manchester University and was a goalkeeper as well and was signed onto Hyde United for a season.
"At the end of the first season, I ended up signing for Worcestershire.
"Football may have been something I could have pursued but cricket was always number one for me."