Dream first-class debut for Halstead’s bowling ace Bertie

TAKING the wicket of two-time South African World Cup all-rounder Andrew Hall was just one magic moment in a dream first-class debut for Halstead bowling ace Bertie Blackwell.

Just for the Durham University student to be included in the Marylebone Cricket Club University three-day game against Northamptonshire from Sunday was special, having suffered a serious back injury which kept him on the sidelines for a year.

But to take four wickets against internationally-acclaimed players and end the game with the top bowling figures, made it a very special debut for the player who will join up with Halstead in the East Anglian Premier League in June.

“It was just unbelievable,” said the 21-year-old Castle Hedingham right-arm medium-fast bowler. “I could not believe what was happening – I had only played a couple of games (for Durham University) before the MCC three-day game and in the previous one I had five catches dropped off my bowling.

“In the third over of this one another one was dropped and I thought it was going to be the same again.

“I was quite happy with two wickets, with Andrew Hall being one of them.”

Blackwell finished the game with figures of 21-2-83-4 and will dine out on taking the scalp of Northants captain Hall — who retired from the international scene in 2007 after 21 Test matches and 88 one day internationals.

The sports science student broke into a first class team for the first time in the last of the three games, used as pre- season fixtures by the likes of Northamptonshire, available to them each season as one of six MCC-linked universities.

Blackwell had to be content with making a handful of appearances as a batsman for his home club Halstead last season due to a stress fracture in his back that left him unable to bowl for a year and hampered his start with his university side.

Halstead, whose first game fell victim to the weather last weekend, host Burwell at Star Stile on Saturday (11am).