'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
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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 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.
"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."
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.
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.
"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.
"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.