FOR one budding Birkenhead schoolboy, his dream of becoming a professional cricketer has come one step closer, writes Michael Kettiros.
Andrew Clarke, 18, from Prenton, has been selected for the MCC Young Cricketers.
Marylebone Cricket Club is the world's oldest and most famous cricket club.
Founded in 1787, it is based at the home of cricket, Lord's, and the club's Young Cricketers programme has had many famous graduates – including England legends Sir Ian Botham and Phil Tufnell.
Andrew was first spotted out of the blue, after a visit to Lord’s last year.
“After my visit to Lord’s I got a letter from Clive Radley asking me to come down to London for a trial in December, ” said Andrew.
“Twenty people were there and I was the only one picked. It was a fantastic feeling because Mr Radley's squad only has 16 people in it, so to be one of them is a great achievement.”
The 2009 squad is Clive Radley's final one after stepping down as MCC head coach after 18 years in charge. Of the new squad, seven were MCC Young Cricketers last year and three will be coming from abroad.
“What Andrew has achieved is phenomenal,” said proud father Graham.
Although the teenage sensation will not move to London until April, he was chosen to tour Mozambique with the full MCC earlier this month.
Explained Andrew: “I got a phone call from Clive Radley asking if I wanted to join them on the tour of Mozambique. I was planning to go Australia for a month but there was no way I could turn down a cricket trip to Africa.”
The tour turned out to be very successful as the MCC won all of their six games, with Andrew collecting the man-of-the-match award after taking four wickets against the Mozambique Development XI.
Back on home soil Andrew is playing for Neston Cricket Club while doing his Level 2 Cricket Coaching Badge.
He added: “It means that even if I'm not playing cricket I can still be part of the sport. I was able to assist in the development of the game in Mozambique by coaching some of the kids who were starting out in the game..”
The MCC Youth Cricketers first game is against Nottinghamshire on April 28.