Morrant Young Gun: Sam Weller, Oxford MCCU and Kent seamer

Between devising a plan to dismiss Kevin Pietersen and sharing a pre-Ashes drink with Mitchell Johnson, Sam Weller has packed a lot into his fledgling career.

At 20, Weller has already impressed in Kent’s 2nd XI and been named captain of his MCCU side in his second year of study at Oxford Brookes.

That role saw the former Millfield pupil lead Oxford into a hat-trick of early-season clashes with Worcestershire, Middlesex and Surrey.

Individually he impressed most against Middlesex, taking the new ball and finishing with match figures of 4-57, but it was the clash with Surrey – when Pietersen announced his return to red-ball cricket with an eye-catching 170 – that caught Weller’s imagination.

The prospect of cooking up a plan to remove the England legend inspired Weller – without a senior appearance to his name – to believe first-team cricket is within his grasp.

“If I got asked to play next week against Surrey, I’d feel completely ready,” he said. “Having played those first-class games, I see the level you need to be at and I don’t think I’d be out of my depth.

“Playing against people like KP is something not many people have had the chance to do and not many people will have in the future.  You want to play against those kinds of players and want to be like that in the future.

“Some people seem to get affected by being captain as a bowler but I love it and I love taking the lead with the new ball. It has been a great experience.”

However, the big-name exposure hasn’t stopped there, after Weller was deployed as a sub fielder for Kent against the touring Australians last month – and caught both Shane Watson and Chris Rogers.

He recalled: “I came on in the second innings for about 45 overs when there were a few tired legs and the first ball I was on, I got a catch. Then I got the chance to chat to Mitchell Johnson afterwards. He came across really well. He gave us nothing when he bowled but after the game he was very forward and open. You treasure those moments.”

Indeed, Weller should be targeting first-team cricket after the seamer was awarded his first senior contract at Canterbury ahead of this summer.

It is an impressive milestone to reach at 20, less than a decade after moving to the famous breeding ground of Millfield – from Singapore.

“Cricket wasn’t a massive thing there so I never really knew what level I could play to,” he said. “Dad (Steve) worked there for four years.

“It was a very ex-pat kind of life, a lot of people coming and going. I enjoyed the area and the life but I didn’t like the weather. I found it too hot and humid for sport.

“I’d never played at a high level and at a place like Millfield, there is talent and class everywhere. You’re surrounded by top-class players, coaches and facilities.”

From Millfield, a teenage Weller took the well-trodden path into the Somerset academy but there was one more move the Chislehurst-born bowler had in mind.

“I still supported Kent and when I got the opportunity to move here, I went for it,” he added. “My 2nd XI debut was a massive thing. In my first game Kevin O’Brien was playing and a few weeks later he was playing for Ireland.

“Now it is about that first-team debut. With bowlers at this time of year there are always going to be injuries and if I do get a chance this year, it’s just about taking it.”

This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper on Friday July 10, 2015

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