Cricket: Fisher’s poised to make his Yorkshire debut, aged 15

Matthew Fisher.
Matthew Fisher.
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Yorkshire pace bowler Matthew Fisher is in line to become the youngest player to take part in a competitive county match in England.

Fisher will be 15 years and 212 days old if he plays in Sunday’s YB40 game against Leicestershire at Scarborough.

He would beat the previous record held by Royston Gabe-Jones, who was 15 years and 274 days when he represented Glamorgan in a County Championship match against Leicestershire at Cardiff in 1922.

Yorkshire can already boast the youngest player to have played first-class cricket in this country.

Wicketkeeper Barney Gibson was 15 years and 27 days when he turned out against Durham MCCU at Durham in 2011.

Gibson beat the record of Charles Young, who was 15 years and 131 days when he represented Hampshire against Kent at Gravesend in 1867, but that was 23 years before the Championship was officially formed.

A further three players younger than Fisher have played first-class cricket in this country – Shoaib Malik, Fred Grace and Bill Ashdown – but each of those took part in a representative game as opposed to a competitive county fixture.

Fisher, who is doing his GCSEs at Easingwold School, described his call-up as a dream come true.

“I could never have imagined at the start of the season that I would be named in the first-team squad,” he said.

“It’s unbelievable. When I found out, I was very proud and emotional. I was smiling from ear to ear.

“My target at the start of the year was to get one or two second team games, and I’ve already surpassed that.

“If I play I will be nervous, but I’m really excited and hopefully it will inspire me to play more professional cricket.”

Fisher, who has been in the Yorkshire set-up since the age of 10, has been handed his chance now that Yorkshire are unable to reach the tournament semi-finals.

The club have lost four of their opening five YB40 games and Fisher, who bowls around 80mph, has earned his opportunity following a timely 6-25 against Leicestershire last week in the Second XI Trophy – the second-best figures by a Yorkshire player in a Trophy game.

“I’ve missed around three of the last four weeks of school to play cricket,” added Fisher.

“I am doing well at school so my teachers are just pleased for me, and I just do the work in my own time.” Fisher is set to have a large following of well-wishers at the seaside, with family, friends and team-mates hoping to cheer him on.

One man who will not be there, however, is his beloved father Phil, who tragically passed away last year after a brave battle with cancer.

“My dad was inspirational,” commented Fisher.

“He did everything the right way. He taught us all well and told me to be level-headed. I know he would be very proud.”

Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire first-team coach, is trying to give as many chances as possible to the club’s younger players in YB40.

The Australian said Fisher fully deserved his recognition.

“Matthew deserves his call up into the squad,” said Gillespie.

“We monitor the progress of all our players and the feedback I have received from Paul Farbrace (the Yorkshire second team coach) on the way Matthew has been playing has been excellent.

“He is very young, but he has the ability to be successful if he is selected on Sunday.”

Yorkshire have also named 17-year-old all-rounder Ryan Gibson in a 14-man squad, which further includes former England pace bowler Liam Plunkett following his recovery from a thigh injury.

Sunday’s match starts at 1.45pm.

Gary Fellows

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