Mildenhall president Tony Cornell is hoping Tom Westley’s first call-up to the England Test team will act as a source of inspiration for the club’s young talents.
The clamour for Westley’s inclusion has grown of late, with the right-hander scoring 478 Division One County Championship runs for Essex in 2017 at an average of 46.5.
And, with Gary Ballance sidelined by a broken finger, the selectors have now turned to the 28-year-old, who will bat at number three in the third Test against South Africa at The Kia Oval, which gets under way today (11am).
Westley has a solid connection with Mildenhall, having represented the Wamil Way outfit intermittently since 2011. He has averaged over 50 in his 21 appearances for the club, taking 19 wickets along the way.
Now, the Durham University graduate is set to become the second player with Mildenhall ties to represent England in recent years, following on from Tymal Mills’ Twenty/20 exploits.
And Cornell believes the duo’s path into international cricket will only serve to galvanize those currently connected to the club.
“We are very pleased for Tom. We have been looking out for his call-up because we understood it was close,” said Cornell.
“It is great for him. He is a nice lad who has been coming back to play for us for a few years.
“I have nearly been involved with the club for 50 years and when I joined you would have thought no way was there ever going to be international cricketers coming through the ranks.
“Both Tom and Tymal are very inspirational and the youngsters we have here can learn a lot from them.
“We were probably one of the first clubs in the area to set up an academy in the 1980s when we saw school cricket was in decline.
“What Tom and Tymal have gone on to do shows that it can work.”
Westley will become the 21st player to turn out for England at number three in the last 20 years — a figure that does not include nightwatchmen.
His involvement has come at a time when there is a large amount of uncertainty surrounding England’s top order, with the likes of the injured Ballance and Keaton Jennings both coming under fire.
Cornell added: “If Tom can score runs consistently, the place looks like it could be his.
“That will be key; scoring runs on a consistent basis and not just as a one-off.
“He has as good a chance as anybody. It is wide open at the moment.
“We would love to see him take his chance. It would be great for himself and the club.”
Speaking to the Essex website, Westley, who scored a century against the South Africans during a warm-up game last month, said: “I appreciate everything in Test cricket is going to be another step up in intensity, but I can take confidence from having faced the majority of their bowlers a few weeks ago and scored some runs.
“For me, the key is going to be replicating what I’ve been doing with Essex.”
The series between England and the Proteas is locked at 1-1 with two matches to play.