The playing fields of Bedfordshire during the summer can feel like a long way from the plush green lawn of Lord’s, but for one young Bedford Cricket Club batsman, the journey to the top is going as well as can be.
Fifteen-year-old batsman Rahul Sheemar finished a glittering 2016 season with Essex County Cricket Club with multiple awards, including Best U15, Most Valuable Player across all Essex age groups and the 2016 Academy Player of the Year.
Rahul is almost a veteran of Bedford CC despite his young age as his staggering performances after a couple of years in the 1st XI plus his performances in a regional training programme caught the eye of Essex.
A couple of months later, Sheemar was the beneficiary of a two-year academy deal with the county that gave us the current England test captain, Alastair Cook.
Having joined Bedford aged just four, he scored his first of many 50s in a Kwik cricket match soon after and began playing for the U10s shortly after his fifth birthday.
By the age of eight, Rahul was a key member of Bedfordshire U11s, along with a lot of his team-mates who went on to play representative cricket.
In another likeness with Cook, the youngster was also offered a cricket scholarship at Bedford School, joining in Year 7.
By 13, Rahul played his first senior 40-over game scoring an unbeaten 110 followed by 133 not out the following weekend, catching the attention of then first XI captain Manvir Chauhan.
On debut, he found himself coming in at number three after one ball, as 76 runs later, he had finished as the top scorer.
Chauhan said of Sheemar: “It was obvious seeing Rahul that he had genuine talent.
“It’s been a pleasure seeing him develop in all three facets of the game and it was very obvious that he would be a key part of the first XI very quickly.”
That call up to the first XI was just the start of the story, with consistently good performances for Bedfordshire, the prestigious Bunbury Festival came calling with an invite a year early, followed by a second year as captain.
He has also made the final national Bunbury squad of 14 to Sri Lanka next Easter, beating 42 other Bunbury participants to a place on the tour.
With a Bedford Cricket Club ethos promoting the value of young players stepping up to the senior teams, Rahul’s journey is unlikely to be the only one.
With younger brother Dilan joining the Regional Emerging Player programme along with compatriot Rohan Mehmi, Bedford can boast a number of young prospects starting to build a path to the higher echelons of the game.
The senior teams, who have a young average age themselves, are all on board with giving the young prospects of the club a chance and with many talents coming through.
They are starting to climb the divisions themselves, building a club that provides a path to the professional game.
Winter training for Bedford Cricket Club will begin again in January 2017, with information being released in due course via the club website at www.bedfordcricketclub.co.uk.