On a day Yorkshire County Cricket Club were inviting youngsters along to Headingley for their Childrens’ Day one could be forgiven for thinking Jason Gillespie was stretching the theme a little too far in Scarborough.
When Matthew Fisher, at the tender age of 15 years and 212 days, was named by Yorkshire Vikings to play Leicestershire Foxes in the YB40 match at North Marine Road he became the youngest player to participate in one of England’s county competitions since 1867.
The York seamer initially starred batting at number ten in the order. He hit 2 runs from his first ball, edged the next two to the boundary and was run out trying to steal a single off the final delivery in Yorkshire’s 258-9. His first four over spell yielded respectable figures of 4-0-18-0 and he was certainly not overawed by the occasion.
On his return with the ball he trapped Shiv Thakor lbw for his first senior wicket as the talented Tyke toddlers appeared to take charge of the game. The wheels came off a little towards the end as an 8th wicket partnership of 71 between Rob Taylor and Jigar Naik saw the vistors home.
Only two years ago Barney Gibson, another Yorkshire lad with prodigious talent, played against Durham MCCU in a first-class match aged just 15 years and 27 days. He remains the youngest English cricketer. Now 17, he was on show at Headingley recently as Yorkshire’s 12th Man and hopes of a successful career still burn brightly.
Charles Young, aged 15-years, 131 days, held the English record for being the youngest cricketer in England for well over a century when he played for Hampshire against Kent in 1867. He went on to play a further 37 first-class games for his county, the last at the grand old age of 33.
So Yorkshire, with a strong Academy setup, blood them young. The county has been given the dubious luxury of being able to turn their YB40 side into a nursery by a distinct lack of success in the format, which has a tendency to rapidly awaken any poor starters from their dreams of a Lord’s final in September.
The Vikings bowling attack on Sunday was led by the comparatively geriatric Liam Plunkett, aged 28, and leg-spinner Adil Rashid, still only 25.
Also bowling alongside Fisher were fellow debutant Ryan Gibson (18), the debutant of a week ago Ben Coad (19) and a veteran of five previous YB40 matches this year, Will Rhodes (18). Yorkshire seem likely to continue to blood fledgling talent at every opportunity in their remaining six matches in the competition.
The youngsters may not have triumphed against Leicestershire, but showed enough to suggest there is plenty more to come from all of them.
Pakistani cricketer Alimuddin became the youngest player to play in a first-class fixture when he appeared for Rajputana in the Ranji Trophy, aged just 12-years and 72 days in 1942. He top-scored in his first innings with 13 and made 27 second time around. He continued to play until he was 38-years-old, notching 140 first-class appearances and 25 in Tests where he scored two centuries. He died in London in July last year after moving to England to work for Pakistan International Airlines after his cricketing retirement.
The youngest international player ever was Hasan Raza who on October 24 1996 played for Pakistan against Zimbabwe aged an alleged 14 years and 227 days. Doubts about his birth date later surfaced and therefore his record is a little dubious, although he was known to be around 15-years-old. He played the last of 7 Test Matches in 2005 and also featured in 16 ODIs. He continues to play for Habib Bank in Pakistan domestic cricket, now aged 31.
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James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
James is a published author and a writer/video contributor to many cricket publications.
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