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'It's bittersweet' - contrasting fortunes for Norfolk cricket star and his village club

PUBLISHED: 14:04 26 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:50 26 July 2019

Olly Stone from Brundall is in the England squad for the first Ashes Test against Australia Picture: PA Images

Olly Stone from Brundall is in the England squad for the first Ashes Test against Australia Picture: PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

As a Norfolk cricket star prepares for what could be the biggest week of his life, his village cricket club is just a month away from folding.

Olly Stone, left, with Nicholas Smit during a game between Mallards and Swardeston last year Picture: Tim FerleyOlly Stone, left, with Nicholas Smit during a game between Mallards and Swardeston last year Picture: Tim Ferley

Olly Stone from Brundall, is in contention for a place in the England Test match squad for their first game of the Ashes series against Australia.

But, Vauxhall Mallards who Stone started playing cricket for at the age of seven have less than 10 games left to play before they cease to exist.

His former team-mate and chairman of the Halvergate-based Vauxhall Mallards, Paul Bradshaw, is keen to see Stone, who starred in this week's test victry against Ireland, take the opportunity with both hands and described his pride at his development.

Former team-mate and chairman of Vauxhall Mallards Paul Bradhsaw. Picture: Denise BradleyFormer team-mate and chairman of Vauxhall Mallards Paul Bradhsaw. Picture: Denise Bradley

"He's always been a very good player but you could never have predicted he would get to the level he has," he said.

"He had the skill of being able to bowl quickly from a young age which has helped a lot but his mental strength is what has taken him to the next level.

"It's great to see him playing so well."

Olly Stone in action for Norfolk at Manor Park last year. Picture: Tim FerleyOlly Stone in action for Norfolk at Manor Park last year. Picture: Tim Ferley

The squad for England's first game of the cricket series will be announced this weekend.

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The 25-year-old impressed on his England Test debut against Ireland this week and will hope he has done enough to earn a spot.

Olly Stone, in action with the bat during a game between Mallards and Swardeston last year Picture: Tim FerleyOlly Stone, in action with the bat during a game between Mallards and Swardeston last year Picture: Tim Ferley

Stone who plays for Warwickshire when he is not on England duty featured in nine of Vauxhall Mallards' matches last year.

Mr Bradshaw, 41, who lives in Thorpe End, praised Stone for his impact on the side.

He said: "It's not just Olly's performances which made a difference, it was the way he conducted himself and raised the quality of the players around him.

The champagne flows as Vauxhall Mallards celebrate winning the 50th and final Carter Cup competition last year Picture: Tim FerleyThe champagne flows as Vauxhall Mallards celebrate winning the 50th and final Carter Cup competition last year Picture: Tim Ferley

"He's such a down to earth lad and it's great to catch up with him when he's back home."

The 41-year-old said a lack of players was the reason for the club taking the decision to fold at the end of the season next month.

"It's bittersweet because it will be great to see Olly play in the Ashes if he gets selected but on the other hand we know he won't be able to inspire the lads here anymore," Mr Bradshaw said.

Olly Stone makes a catch during the first day of the test match between England and Ireland at Lord's cricket ground in London. Picture: AP Photo/Kirsty WigglesworthOlly Stone makes a catch during the first day of the test match between England and Ireland at Lord's cricket ground in London. Picture: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

"It's not a great position to be in but we just have to remember everything we have achieved here."

Stone, who was a pupil at Thorpe St Andrew School, made his debut for Vauxhall Mallards' first team in 2009 with the club winning a number of East Anglian Premier League titles and cup competitions in the following years.

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