Warwickshire high performance manager Paul Greetham is "hugely proud" of young seam-bowler Manraj Johal's rise into the first team ranks at Edgbaston.

Birmingham-born Johal, who has just turned 20, made his first-class debut against Lancashire in the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s in the last match of the 2021 season.

The then 19-year-old took the big occasion entirely in his stride, not only taking four wickets in the match but also making an accomplished 19 with the bat.

It was a highly impressive display from the first-year pro – and continued his excellent progress since he showed the strength and character to bounce back from deselection from the Bears’ Emerging Players Programme squad five years ago.

“I am hugely proud of Manny,” said Greetham. “He is truly one of our own having been in our age group squads from Under 11s.

“He showed a lot of promise early on in the system but was deselected from the EPP because we didn’t feel that he was progressing as quickly as other players at the time. As always with players in that situation, we gave him a lot of good feedback about the areas he needed to improve upon and his response was outstanding.

Paul Greetham

“He went away, worked incredibly hard and 18 months later he was selected on the Academy. In 2020 and whilst on the Academy, I was particularly impressed by the way he handled the challenges of the first major lockdown. That was a tough time for all players of course, but he used it superbly within Covid guidance to improve his fitness and conditioning, so when he returned he was fitter than ever and with the motor running.”

Johal, who has spent a lot of development time at the Forward Drive Cricket Centre in Digbeth, was rewarded with a first pro contract and this year made his first-team debut with six Royal London Cup games. Then came that eye-catching red-ball bow in the Bob Willis Trophy drubbing of the Red Rose.

“Manny was very impressive at Lord’s in all departments – with the ball, with the bat and in the field,” said Greetham. “All of the first team coaches commented on how impressed they were by Manny all-round, even down to how sharp and switched on he was in the field. He looked as driven as ever, but very composed.

“We are all very proud of him and credit to Forward Drive where he spent a lot of time supported by his dad and the coaching team there. It is just a brilliant example of a local lad with a great attitude coming through with the right local support.”

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