CRICKET: Ben Allison became the latest player to progress from the famed and envied Essex academy when he made his Essex Championship debut in the drawn match with Worcestershire.

The 21-year-old right-arm fast-medium bowler, who plays his club cricket for Brentwood, has been with the county since the age of eight playing for the various age groups before moving into the academy and the second 11.

But he realised his dream of representing the county in red-ball cricket when selected for the opening game of the season at Chelmsford although conditions were far from favourable with arctic-like temperatures and a pitch becoming increasingly benign for bowlers as the match progressed.

Despite that backcloth, Allison revelled in the experience.

“I can’t lie, I was really chuffed when I got the nod to play on the morning of the game,” said Allison.

“I didn’t have much to do on the first couple of days then, when I got handed the ball on the Saturday, the adrenalin was really flowing.

"It was a tough introduction but I loved it. I’m thrilled to bits to have made my Essex debut and hopefully, I can go on and get a few more games under my belt.

"My target at the start of the season was to get into the first team and take things from there but the competition for bowling places is really tough and I know it will get even more difficult to get into this Essex side when we have ‘Sidds’ (Peter Siddle) back.”

Allison made a favourable impression and returned commendable figures of one for 67 from 25 overs as Worcestershire posted 475 all out on a batsman-friendly track in response to their opponents 490/9 declared.

And head coach Anthony McGrath was delighted with Allison’s efforts.

“It was a really good start for him,” said McGrath.

“He’s deserved his chance. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and he’s only young so he is still obviously growing. But on a flat track, where there were a lot of runs around, I thought he stuck to his task really well. No bowler from either side really got a lot of assistance overall but I liked the way he controlled the run-rate and he did himself no harm at all with the way he went about his game.”