Boost for Vauxhall Mallards bowler Olly Stone after signing two-year deal
Vauxhall Mallards pace bowler Olly Stone has signed a two-year professional contract with Northamptonshire.
The 18-year-old, who made his Norfolk debut last summer, played his first First Class match for Northants earlier this season when he featured in the County Championship match against Yorkshire at Headingley. He has also played three Clydesdale Bank 40 matches and three Twenty20 games for the Steelbacks this year, after first appearing for the county in a Twenty20 match last July.
Stone, a former Thorpe St Andrew High School pupil, told the Northants website: 'It is great news for me and I was very happy to accept the contract offer from Northants.
'I never expected my season to go as well as it has, and I'm glad to have been given the opportunity to show what I can do for the club.
'I had a fantastic winter after coming back from injury, and that has carried me into this season. The support I have received from everyone here at the County Ground has been fantastic. I can only hope to continue my progress and help Northants be competitive in all forms of the game going forward.'
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Northants' interim head coach David Ripley, who has overseen Stone's progress through the county's academy, said: 'We are very pleased Olly has signed. Olly has been with Northants since he was 13, and we have seen him develop as a person and as a cricketer.
'He bounced back from a stress fracture and has been absolutely fantastic this season.
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'The support staff have helped him along the way but Olly deserves this contract after all of his hard work.'
• IT'S BEERS FOR SOUVENIRS
Veteran cricketer Richard Voisey had the perfect company to drown his sorrows with when a three-match tour of Oxford turned into a complete washout – he was surrounded by a group of real ale fans.
It was beers for souvenirs when the Happisburgh stalwart teamed up with pals at the Peterborough branch of CAMRA as the ale-loving cricketers visited three breweries as well as checking out a selection of hostelries.
'It was matches played – none, brewery tours completed three,' said Richard, 49. 'In 18 years of tours, of which I have been on 17, it was the first time it had been a complete washout.'
The tourists took in the Whittlebury and Oakley breweries on the way down, avoiding the A43 Silverstone Grand Prix traffic nightmare, thanks to the ingenuity of the driver who pulled out all the stops to devise a route using side roads. On the way back the party set the seal on the tour by dropping in on the XT brewery in Thame, Oxfordshire.
Cheers: Richard Voisey manages a smile despite the tour washout.
• ENGLAND SEAMER READY FOR 'HUGE CHALLENGE'
James Anderson believes South Africa's batting line-up will provide England's bowlers with their sternest examination, as he gears up for a three-Test series.
The world number one ranking is on the line and the series has been billed as a battle between the best two pace attacks in world cricket, with Anderson, Stuart Broad and Co going head to head with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
But the Lancashire quick is not focused purely on his rivals with the ball and knows he must be at his best against a batting line-up featuring four players ranked in the world's top 10.
'It's going to be a huge challenge,' he said. 'The last couple of times South Africa have been over here they've played really well and beaten us.
'Both attacks have shown in the last 18 months that we are strong units. I think it'll be a good battle.
'It's going to be really important that our bowling attack's on top form because their batting unit's really strong.
'I see they've got six key wickets, they've got such a strong batting line-up that every wicket's crucial. They've got some great players in there and we're going to have to be on the top of our game.
'We're looking forward to it, we like testing ourselves against the best in the world and there's four of their guys in the top 10 so it should be a good challenge.'
The Proteas inflicted England's last Test series defeat on home soil, in 2008, and Anderson continued: 'A lot of the guys played in that series, we're well aware of it.
'They played really well last time they were over here and they're going to be strong in our conditions with both the bat and the ball. But confidence is high, we're really excited to be playing such a strong team.'
England have a key batsman in form themselves, with Kevin Pietersen going into the series having made 80 and 78 in his last two Test innings against the West Indies and an unbeaten 234 for Surrey against Lancashire, during the run of county action created by his retirement from limited-overs internationals.
Anderson was unwilling to comment on reports Pietersen could reverse that decision but said: 'Something we're excited about is the form he's shown this summer.
'He's carried it on from the IPL and hopefully he can carry it on to end of this series.'