Warwickshire teenagers Hamza Shaikh and Tazeem Ali have been Bears teammates since the age of 11 – and now they’re set to line up together for England.
The 17-year-olds have progressed through every age group of the Club’s youth pathway, into the Academy and now the senior ranks.
Batter Hamza has become a regular in First Team Coach Mark Robinson’s Metro Bank One Day Cup side, while leg-spinner ‘Taz’ made a wicket-taking debut last week against Derbyshire.
Both have now been called up to the England U19s squad for ODIs against Australia in the latest chapter of their development at Warwickshire, with Taz also included in the Ireland ODI squad, taking three wickets in two matches at Loughborough.
“It’s everyone’s dream to go through the pathway and reach the England team,” said Shaikh.
“It’s been a brilliant, whirlwind couple of weeks playing Super Fours, 50 over stuff and then getting involved with the U19s. A lot of big names have gone through a similar pathway to the one me and Taz are so just to be a part of that is amazing.
“It’s going to be great playing against Australia, one of the best opponents you could face. With a young team it’ll be a brilliant challenge and they’ll be a lot we can learn from it.”
Both Shaikh and Ali have featured in the Bunbury tournament – a national cricket festival for the country’s best under-15 boys – during their rise through the ranks.
Ali – whose debut wicket was that of Pakistan international Haider Ali – said progressing through the youth pathway has helped him make strong bonds and friendships with teammates like Shaikh.
He added: “Hamza’s a good person. In the team and on the pitch he has a serious attitude but then he’s laid back off the field which is probably something you need.
”We’ve known each other for a good few years now, supporting each other and it’s great to take the step up into the first team alongside him.
“Getting the call-up for England is pretty crazy, it’s all happened so quickly, but I’ll be giving my all for the team.”
And Hamza is delighted for Taz in his breakthrough year.
“He’s had a chance now to show everyone what he’s capable of and he’s taken that chance with both hands.
“Tazeem has been brilliant from the start; I’ve always enjoyed playing with and against him. Over the years I’ve tried to come after him with the bat in the nets and in matches but it’s really not that easy! And he showed that talent on his debut.
“However, the battles we’ve had in the nets together have been brilliant and just having him around as one of the main spinners in the team, and a person you can rely, on is great. Hopefully there’s more to come with us.”
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