Young Northamptonshire seam bowler Olly Stone has done enough in the early stages of 2015 to earn praise from both his coach and captain.
His efforts during the off-season proved enough to get the 21-year-old a place in the XI for the County’s first LV= County Championship game edging the more experienced Steven Crook out of the side.
And as only 30 wickets fell and more than 1,300 runs were scored, it might seem like none of the bowlers really impressed on a track that played more mid-August than early April.
But Stone’s 2-110 in 32 overs were good enough to prompt skipper Alex Wakely to pick him out from the crowd.
The captain stated he thought the youngster had ‘put on a yard or two’ during the winter and that was also something that pleased director of cricket David Ripley.
“Olly’s almost forced his way into the side with how he’s gone in pre-season,” he explained.
“His stats were solid last year but he was held back by injury.
“He’s worked really hard over the winter and deserves his place in the side.
“We will obviously need to keep him as fit as we can but he’s a great asset for us.
“He did well in the Gloucestershire game and the nice thing about is was he was really putting it in.
“He’s always had a bit of pace about him and we’ve seen that since he has been here.
“But last year he was feeling his way a little bit.
“Now he is bowling at the sort of pace we know he can and was hitting the bat hard in the first game.”
And while the early omens are good for Stone, Ripley does feel he will need looking after as he is one of many in the small group of Northamptonshire seam bowlers who have had problems with injury.
“The four bowlers we select for each will be putting themselves down for 20 overs an innings - especially at this time of year and without having Graeme White to call on,” Ripley added.
“There is a workload there - you’re looking at 40 overs in a match - and you can’t keep doing that game after game after game.
“All the bowlers have a bit of history with injuries and we have to manage that.”