This week Bill Carne chats to Tom Murphy, who is very definitely one of the Rising Stars of local cricket as a fast bowler with Cresselly, Wales and the West of England . . .

At 16 years of age Tom Murphy is already a fast-bowling first team regular at Cresselly Cricket Club after joining them this year from Kilgetty, and his pace bowling has helped his new club into the top three of the first division.

Tom already stands 6’3” tall and weighs in around 75kgs (that’s 12 stone to the old fogies amongst you) and his genuine pace at such an early age has already been recognised with Welsh caps from under 11 level through each year group to under 16.

At the moment he has just received the exciting news that he has been included in the West of England squad after recent trial matches at Banbury in Oxfordshire on a recent Tuesday against the Welsh under 17s and just three days later against London and the East at Great Tew, in the Cotswolds.

His reward for making the West of England squad is to play as one of the 14 selected for the Bunbury Festival at Oakham School in Rutland.

With local matches also coming thick and fast for Cresselly there is currently a lot of cricket for Tom – and plenty of travel for the family. Luckily for Tom, they are really keen on sport and well used to a high mileage because Tom’s older brother Jack has provided the cricketing footprint for Tom to follow.

Tom’s father Colin enjoyed cricket with Kilgetty and Saundersfoot but readily admits that he wasn’t in the same class as his boys, playing more football for both of those clubs as a natural left-sided player. Mum Laurie played netball to a good standard and Tom’s sister Nia (13) is already proving to be a useful cricketing all-rounder with Cresselly Ladies.

Jack is now 6’7” tall and as a fast bowler has been awarded a summer contract with Glamorganshire before he goes on to Cardiff Metropole University for a three-year sporting course that will naturally include plenty of cricket. Jack has also played cricket in New Zealand to gain experience and has just returned to action after a knee operation.

So it is easy to see how Tom set out in cricket, initially playing in the garden of the family home in Tenby and joining Kilgetty Cricket Club as an eight year old.

“I must have thrown a million balls for them to practise batting,” said Colin, “and they were always trying to bowl fast.

“I faced them in the nets though and I still reckon I am good enough for a place in Cresselly Thirds,” he says with a chuckle. Cresselly selectors please take note!

Outside of his cricket, Tom has also played football as a midfielder with Tenby’s junior teams, having played in the winning cup final team last season for their age group coached by Ian Poole, better known as a cricketer and someone who has seen Tom through the ranks of the summer sport.

Ian is a former Welsh international wicket/keeper/batsman so when he says that Tom is an excellent young cricketer who is a pleasure to have in the team because he works really hard and always listens to advice, it is high praise indeed!

Tom used to play as a centre in rugby at Greenhill School as well but had to stop because of his time commitment to cricket – and Colin enrolled him as a junior member at Tenby Golf Club for a while but had to stop him playing because he left too many deep divots on the fairways and was driving the green keepers wild!

Back on the cricket front, Tom first played as an eight year old at Kilgetty and then as a regular in the county team – and before long included in the Welsh under 11s squad alongside Llangwm’s Phil Llewellyn under the watchful eye of Peter Davies and Graham Burgess.

Since then he has played regularly in each year’s squad, which has demanded real commitment and lots of travel but he would say it was worth it because he has had lots of good coaching from Mike Knight (under 12s), Martin Strange (under 13s), Mark Walton (under 14s) and then Darren Jones and John Prickett (under 15s).

It was at under 13 level that Tom was offered a cricket scholarship to Worcester College but decided against it after discussing all the options with his parents.

Whilst playing for the under 14s he claimed his best wicket haul with his country as he picked up an impressive 5 for 17 against Berkshire at Newport. He also grabbed 6 for 15 for Kilgetty in a senior match against Hook and on the batting front so far has a best score of 56 for Kilgetty Juniors.

This season saw Tom move up a grade by playing for Cresselly and he announced his arrival with a bang as he played for the seconds against Llechryd and took 4 for 7 to help his team to an easy win.

Then it was on into the first team and he took 4 for 47 in his first local derby against Carew, followed by 4 for 25 against Haverfordwest and 2 for 37 when they played Saundersfoot; whilst his best figures so far of 5 for 41 came against Llanrhian.

Small wonder that captain Phil Williams is delighted with his club’s youngest recruit.

“Tom has really boosted our bowling strength and he never gives less than 100% with his batting and fielding.

“He takes the leg-pulling that comes his way and he is a poplar, as well as important, member of our team.”

Ask Tom about ambitions and he is quick to answer.

“Obviously I’d like to follow Jack in doing well at a higher level and I’m ready to work hard for that.

“But I am still only 16 and I am enjoying it at Cresselly, where I have had lots of help from ‘Taffy’ (Phil Williams) and ‘Snowy’ (Simon Cole).

“I am in the ‘Glamorgan Emerging Players’ squad coached by Richard Almond and John Derrick and the next step is to aim for the Academy squad, which runs from 16-19.

“I had a call recently from Darren Thomas about playing a match for the Welsh Minor Counties’ team but I was involved with the West of England squad – although I would love to try my hand in the Minor Counties at some time soon.”

He has also been grateful for help from a variety of other sources, the most recent being when he joined dad in going to watch Jack play in Cardiff – where he was given some impromptu coaching on how to use the seam well from former Glamorgan and England fast bowler Steve Watkin.

“It was brilliant,” Tom told us, “and I can’t wait to try the techniques he showed me in local cricket.

It is all part of an interesting and exciting learning curve for Tom Murphy as he pursues his cricketing education with relish.

Chat to him for a short while and it is easy to see how committed he is.

Watch him bowl and you can’t help but be impressed because he really is an exciting prospect if he can maintain his current progress!