RISHI Sharath of Slough Cricket Club recently won a spin scholarship to India after successful trials at Lord's indoor nets.
Chinaman Sharath, along with Wanstead & Snaresbrook CC's Joe Ellis, was selected from 34 hopefuls for a week-long trip to the Pune Academy in February to learn all aspects of spin-bowling.
The 20-year-olds were chosen by the three judges - Min Patel, John Emburey and Keith Medlycott - in a scheme backed by the Club Cricket Conference, All Out Cricket magazine and Kingfisher Beer, with the aim of providing top-grade experience for young cricketers outside the professional county sphere.
Sharath, pictured right, a mechanical engineering student at Southampton University, caught the eye with his left-arm wrist variations, including a well disguised googly.
Due to a glut of senior spinners at Slough - the Home Counties League Division Two West champions - Sharath spent the season in the second team gaining experience not available at the higher level.
All 34 trialists were given an opportunity to discuss spin-bowling with the experts during their hour-long stay in the nets, and these conversations proved to be an important part of the selection process.
Former Kent and England left-armer Patel said: "We posed questions and wanted to find out how much they knew about the game.
"It was not just about the art of bowling, it was about the art of thinking about bowling, thinking batters out and about your own game.
"A five-minute chat can give you a greater insight than arguably watching them bowl for 15 minutes." Patel continued: "They are young enough at the art of spin bowling, and they've got years ahead of them to learn and develop, as long as they are enjoying it and not getting too wrapped up in it.
"All these kids would not be here if they didn't have the ambition to go further." Judge Emburey picked up on what was expected for the scholarship, adding "You are looking for feedback from them to see how they're thinking.
"It is not just performance, it's a technical and tactical scenario. By and large the kids did what they were talking about.
"It is different now from when I played. They are a lot more positive about coming forward and telling you what they're thinking." Slough CC's Saif Kazim was also invited to Lord's as a trialist but was not awarded with a scholarship to the Pune Academy.
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