By Alastair Mavor
GLOUCESTERSHIRE’S Will Tavare is as surprised as anyone at his prolific run-scoring this season.
In April, the nephew of former England batsman Chris was gearing up for a season in the 2nd XI . After all, it had only been after an excellent club season for Bristol in the West of England Premier, plus 642 runs in the 2013 2nd XI Championship, that he was offered a contract at all.
But after finding form in pre-season he has not looked back. Since the start of this summer, he has amassed 760 runs at 44.70, including three centuries – one a classy 135 against Derbyshire at Cheltenham this week – and is the county’s highest run-scorer this season.
Tavare, 24, said: “When I got home from spending the winter in Melbourne, I spoke to the coach John Bracewell about some goals for the season. I just had goals for the second team; I didn’t expect to be in the 1st XI at all.
“To be selected for the first game against Hampshire, and become just the eighth Gloucestershire player to hit a ton on debut, was definitely a shock.
“I went sky-diving with my brother Matt the previous Christmas – that was the only thing close to the adrenaline rush I got when I hit that hundred. It helped me feel at home in the first team and it’s gone reasonably well since.”
A glance at Tavare’s recent knocks suggests he has inherited his uncle’s penchant for gritty, match-saving innings, too. His second hundred helped Gloucestershire stave off defeat against Surrey, while a gutsy 41 from 167 balls that ensured a draw against Glamorgan in June was reminiscent of some of Chris’s performances against Australia.
He has even adopted his uncle’s obsessive habit of strolling half way to square-leg between balls.
“The ‘Tavare’ name has probably helped, too,” he said. “People recognised things I’d done maybe more readily than if I’d just had an ordinary name.
“I do have a little wander and it just helps me keep focused. I don’t think I do anything near as big as Chris, though.
“When my uncle played for England his job was to bat all day. People see that and just think he was boring. But from what I’ve heard, in county cricket he could be pretty aggressive. In the short term that’s how I’d like to play and my next goal is to play one-day cricket.
“In the long term, I’d love to follow in my uncle’s footsteps and play for England. It’s something every young cricketer dreams of. Very simply, I’ve just got to get my head down and score hundreds.”
Tavare is glad his chance did not come sooner. “I wasn’t good enough at 18 or 19 and I reckon if I’d been given a chance at 18, I don’t think I’d be playing now,” he said.
“So instead, when I finished A-levels at Bristol GS, I went to Loughborough to read marine biology. It was definitely the right call for me at the time.
“For people who aren’t good enough at 18, the Loughborough set-up is fantastic. We had great facilities and I got to work with Graham Dilley. By the time I eventually got my chance at Gloucestershire I was more mature, and had learned my game.”