Despite a truncated season spanning just 2 months, further attention was attracted to the famed Essex Academy as more youngsters emerged taking the opportunity of involvement either in or around the First Team.
Feroze Khushi made his first-class debut when playing against Kent in the opening match of the Bob Willis Trophy campaign, whilst Jack Plom, Ben Allison and Robin Das all experienced white-ball cricket during the Vitality Blast. Additionally, Josh Rymell was also named in the squad for the final T20 match of the season although he failed to make the starting line-up.
Aged 20, the Colchester-born fast-bowler signed his first professional contract with the County during the 2019 season and subsequently penned a two-year extension that will see him stay with the Club until the end of the 2022 campaign.
He started his Club cricket with Colchester & East Essex Cricket Club, before moving to Brentwood Cricket Club in 2018 and has represented England U19’s level. He has featured heavily for the Second XI and made his first-class debut for Gloucestershire in August 2019 whilst on loan, before making his first appearance for Essex in the T20 clash with Sussex Sharks at Chelmsford last season.
Head Coach Anthony McGrath said: “Ben has been in and around the First Team for a few years now and is a real prospect for the future. He’s a confident young man and always wants the ball in his hand, and everybody at the Club is excited about his potential.”
First Team bowler Jamie Porter is also enthusiastic for the player’s future, saying “Ben is an exciting prospect. He is a little bit different to Jack Plom, he has an awkward angle and action but has very good skills and is very accurate.”
Feroze made his first-class debut against Kent in the Bob Willis Trophy and made an immediate impression, hitting a vital 45 in the second innings to help Essex to a 2-wicket victory.
Reflecting on his debut, Khushi said: “My job is to put the bad balls away and pick off anything short. I needed to get the first few ticked off, take one ball at a time. Every boundary gave me a confidence boost and helped me settle down.”
In only his third first-class innings, he underlined his ability and promise with a fine 66 against Sussex. By the end of the season, he had become an integral member of the red-ball squad making 4 appearances in the Bob Willis Trophy.
The pull shot is a trademark stroke of the young batsman, with Feroze acknowledging: “It’s now one of the shots I play pretty well.
“The cut is another of my strengths and anything off my legs I can clip away. And anything straight I like to get down and hit back past the bowler.”
Plom has been on the Essex radar for quite some time now and has had to wait patiently for his chance, but he caught the eye with a series of impressive displays in this year’s Vitality Blast campaign, taking 7 wickets at 18.42. Amongst his wickets were the notable scalps of international batsmen Zak Crawley, Sam Billings, James Vince, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Luke Wright and Calum MacLeod.
A bowler of genuine pace, he has long been highlighted as a potential First Team opening bowler, and has also been recognised at the international level, appearing for England U19’s.
Plom penned a contract extension with the Club until the end of the 2021 campaign after which he said: “I’m really pleased to sign a new deal with Essex and I’m grateful to the Club for showing faith in me.
“I was naturally delighted to get my chance to play in the Vitality Blast and the experience I’ve gained from those matches will help when I do get my opportunity in red-ball cricket.”
Born in Leytonstone in February 2002, Robin is a British Bangladeshi whose father hails from Sunamganj. The right-handed batsman plays Club cricket for Wanstead and is another who came through the Essex Academy and spent part of last season training with the England U19’s squad.
His form in the Essex Second XI and Academy was sufficiently impressive to earn him selection for the senior side in the Vitality Blast match with Sussex Sharks towards the end of the 2020 campaign.
Educated at Brentwood School, he once scored 200 not out for Wanstead during their Essex Matchplay quarter-final competition against Brentwood in 2018. He went from 100 runs to 200 runs in 8 overs and scored 24 off the final over of the innings, including a 6 off the last ball to ensure he achieved the club record milestone of 200 runs in a knockout competition.
Academy Director Barry Hyam was full of praise for the talented young batsman’s achievement in 2020, saying: “He showed excellent form in both red-ball and white-ball cricket although perhaps leaning slightly towards white-ball cricket.
“He is a strong lad who strikes the ball really cleanly and is pretty switched-on to work out really well different situations in the game.”