By Stuart Dunn at the Shrewsbury Chronicle
ED BARNARD, the Shrewsbury cricketer tipped for a bright future, is thrilled to have sealed a quick return trip to the United Arab Emirates after being named in the England squad for next month’s ICC Under-19 World Cup.
Shrewsbury School pupil Barnard, who used to attend the town’s Meole Brace School, recently represented England in a triangular tournament against hosts UAE and Pakistan.
The highly-rated 18-year-old then faced an anxious wait to find out if he had done enough to make the World Cup squad with the news he had so wanted to hear finally revealed this week by the ECB.
“I was really happy and relieved when I found out because they had an initial 30-man squad and then they cut it down,” said Barnard.
“I was fairly confident having been on the tour before Christmas so I was hoping but you never know. I had my fingers crossed.”
Barnard will link up with the England squad ahead of departing for Dubai on January 31.
Three practice matches have been arranged before the World Cup campaign gets under way with group matches against UAE, Sri Lanka and New Zealand on February 14, 16 and 18.
Barnard has experienced a whirlwind 12 months since hitting a century on his England under-19 debut against South Africa in Cape Town just a few weeks after turning 17.
A back injury meant he was ruled out for 12 weeks of the last domestic season but he returned in time to play a couple of games for Birmingham League champions Shrewsbury in the closing weeks of the campaign.
He also proved his fitness to the England selectors by captaining the under-17s in two one-day internationals against Sri Lanka.
Barnard has been part of the England Development Programme for the last three years and recently signed a new two-year contract with Worcestershire CCC as he eyes a breakthrough to the first class game.
Barnard will have some Shropshire company in the World Cup-bound England under-19 squad as Wellington batsman Joe Clarke, also under contract at Worcestershire, has also been selected.