Dubai: Two budding cricketers from the Young Talent Cricket Academy (YTCA) returned from the academy’s United Kingdom tour with an unforgettable and inspiring experience. Off-spinner Sairaj Venkat and leg-spinner Visakh Chandrasekhar were picked by Durham County Cricket Club to bowl against the top Australian and England players of the just concluded Ashes Test series.

Speaking to Gulf News, Shehzad Altaf, the Director and chief coach of the YTCA, said: “Our two cricketers got the opportunity to bowl to Shane Watson, Kevin Pietersen, Matthew Wade, Usman Khwaja, Ed Cowan and Ashton Agar at the Riverside Ground, Cheseter-le-Street before the fourth Test match of the Ashes series. Our academy was in Durham to play our tour matches and Geoff Cook and John Windows of Durham County Cricket Club gave them this great opportunity.”

Commenting on the experience the players who bowled to the greats of the game, said: “It was tough to bowl any loose ball as they were smashing it but once we got our rhythm we did beat their bat a few times.”

So impressed were the England and Australian players that the players were asked to bowl for two continuous days. “This is the first time on a UK Tour that my boys get to bowl to Test batsmen,” said Altaf.

While training at the Durham’s indoor nets, former England captain Paul Collingwood visited their practice area and interacted with the players closely. He also posed for snaps with the players.

The tour was supported by Sunil Israni, who supplied all the kit for the players. The YTCA’s Under-16 and Under-19 teams won all their matches while the Under-13 team won four out of the six matches.

The highlights of the tour were victories against Morpeth CC, South Shields CC, Washington CC, Benwell Hill CC, Marsden CC, Sacriston CC. The Under-19 team also visited the Ampleforth College to play a touring team from China.

For the Under-19 team, Sairaj Venkat hit a fine century and was involved in a 206-run partnership with Vishakh Chandrasekhar, who hit an unbeaten 81 against Sacriston CC.

Bharath Srinivasan was also in fine form and hit two fifties and anchored the team to fine victories over Washington CC and South Shields CC. He was well supported by Abhishek Nair and Abrar Khazi who contributed well.

Priyadarshan Nagasubramanian, Siddhant Jhurani, Joel John and Vaibhav Chandrasekhar provided a rare four-member pace quartet for the YTCA while Rahul Bhatia, Sairaj and Vishakh formed a formidable spin trio. It was one of the best bowling attacks of YTCA on a UK tour.

The Under-16 team was led by Shobit Bhatia also won the T20 tournament played at South Shields CC.

In the Under-13 team, Aneesh Vasudevan was in fine form with two fifties and scripted the victory for his team.

The following players won top awards during the tour.

Under-13: Player of the tournament: Aneesh Vasudevan, best batsman: Rithik Sunil Israni. Best bowler: Shashwik Shetty

Under-16: Player of the tournament: Rahul Bhatia, best batsman: Bharath Srinivasan, best bowler: Priyadrashan Nagasubramanian,

Under-19: Player of the tournament: Sairaj Venkat, best batsman: Vishakh Chandrasekhar, best bowler: Siddhant Jhurani