Don Topley: A proud day for Tom Westley and his family - I hope they had better luck with tickets!
- Credit: PA
In his latest weekly cricket column, Don Topley reflects on Tom Westley’s England debut - and recalls a tale of ticket woe when his own son Reece was picked for the national side!
Tom Westley of Essex and, now England. No-one can ever take that away from him.
The Essex star batsman made his England debut last week, making a solid 25 and a good 59 in his two innings at the Oval and looked every part a Test Cricketer.
Today, he will bat again at number three at Old Trafford, as England will look to complete a good win in the final Test with South Africa in this four-match series.
I know Tom reasonably well and have commentated on radio many times on his professional cricket. I was delighted to conduct his very first formal interview after being selected for England at the Oval Test.
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I introduced him on air as Tom Westley of Essex and England, and he looked and sounded so proud with a huge smile right the way through the ten-minute chat.
As I completed the interview I reminded him to enjoy his debut despite all the nerves; as all cricketers know you only get one debut and that is always a very special occasion. All other future games are simply never the same.
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On hand at his Test Match debut was one of his mentors, Graham Gooch, to present him formally with his cap on the morning of the Oval Test.
His mum and dad, I am sure, will have been in the players’ corporate hospitality suite early that morning and would not miss that ‘capping ceremony’ which is traditionally completed in a huddle on the outfield.
Debutants are often presented their cap by a former England player who is well known to the debutant or has an association with his county club.
Born 28 years ago in Cambridge, Tom played age-group cricket for Cambridgeshire until Keith Fletcher spotted him playing at Under 15 level and invited him to move across to Essex.
Tom has played for Saffron Walden and more recently, Mildenhall CC, in the EAPL – a real East Anglian man.
I would expect Tom to take over the Essex captaincy when current captain, Ryan Ten Doeschate, retires or relinquishes the responsibility.
It must be said that some misfortune to Gary Ballance, allowed Westley his selection; Ballance broke his finger in the previous Test. It is often said in sport that somebody’s misfortune is someone else’s fortune.
Tom’s girlfriend, his proud parents and, no doubt, his best friends will be taking his player’s complimentary tickets in Manchester today.
I hope his parents don’t suffer a similar experience to mine when my son, Reece, was in the England squad for the One Day Internationals with New Zealand at Old Trafford.
Reece signed off four complimentary tickets which the home dressing room attendant would deliver to the Players’ Ticket Collection Gate.
The four of us announced ourselves at the ticket office two hours before the start of play only to be told “sorry they were not here.” We returned every 15 minutes to be told the same. I then visited all four entrance gates around the perimeter of the Old Trafford ground to be told “no Topley tickets here”
With 40 minutes before the start of play we were still outside the ground rather unimpressed and I couldn’t find someone who could genuinely help.
So, I rang Michael Vaughan, who coincidentally was conducting an interview quite close to Reece who was warming up on the outfield. Vaughan confirmed: “Reece says they are on the gate.”
More time passed before we heard the public announcer conduct the toss and the captains announced their teams and Eoin Morgan omitted Reece.
The four of us were somewhat relaxed but still outside the ground missing out on the splendid corporate hospitality.
I was eventually recognised and we were ushered in and taken to our seats, but missed the entire first over and all the pre-match drinks and formal luncheon.
Our tickets had been claimed by someone imitating his parents – today even parents must confirm their identity to collect complementary tickets.
That was an anxious and underwhelming day as the proud parent of an England cricketer.
Let’s hope the Westleys have more luck!