A Brentwood schoolboy has just returned from his first England Under-19 cricket tour. Playing two years ahead of himself, Gunn & Moore Academy player Kishen Velani, 17, played in six out of his country's seven One-Day games in Bangladesh and now hopes his performances earn him his first trips to Australia – firstly for a quad series in March and then the Under-19 World Cup in August.
The Essex Academy youngster told the Gazette: "It was a really good experience for me. The conditions out there were very different to what I'm used to and we couldn't go out of the hotel for security reasons.
"The pitches were quite two-paced and it was difficult to read their spinners. In the end we lost the series 5-2, it was lost in the sixth game."
Velani missed the fourth match of the three and-a-half week tour after taking a bang on the head, whilst dropping a catch in the deep left him with a mild concussion.
"I went out to bat afterwards and I really didn't know what was going on," he said. "I didn't get out but I was dropped twice!"
In his first year of A-Levels, he is taking Maths, Physics and PE, it was down to concentrated book work for two hours a day in the hotel for the youngster and several of his team-mates.
"It was quite good actually because one of the lads had done one of my subjects for AS level," he said. "We didn't work on match days or when we were travelling. There were about seven of us working so it wasn't too bad.
"I've dropped economics A-level, I was going to do four but I just haven't got the time."
He first came to Essex's attention at under-9 level having put in some impressive performances for his club side Wanstead, for whom he made his debut at just six in an Under-11's game.
His father Sam recalled: "They asked if they should bowl under arm to him because he was so small.
"They didn't and he crashed the first ball through the covers for four!"
He steadily progressed through the various county age groups and was awarded with a sports scholarship to Brentwood School.
After impressing at the famous Bunbury ESCA Festival in 2010 – a competition that involves the best 60 under-15 cricketers in the country – England came calling.
And last summer he was promoted to the Under-19s where South Africa were the tourists.
After forcing his way in to the side he made in impact in just his second game, making a match-winning half-century.
Article and photo courtesy of the Essex Chronicle.