Making a national side for the first time for any athlete is a milestone worth celebrating. It shows that the countless hours and hard work an athlete is putting in to their craft is paying off and being recognised. The New Zealand Cricket Under-19 team to play Bangladesh has been named, with three Tauranga cricketers selected for the 18-man team. Tim Pringle and Ben Pomare will again represent the team for the second time in just a matter of months and when they play Bangadesh this weekend, they'll be joined by Fergus Lellman, who makes his debut in a national squad. Reporter Kristin Macfarlane finds out what it takes to get noticed in your sport.
The early morning batting sessions, the countless hours put into gym and fitness training and the many team practices are paying off for Tauranga's Fergus Lellman, who continues to reach milestones in 2019.
The Aquinas College Year 13 student is one of three Tauranga cricketers named in the 18-man New Zealand Under-19 squad that will play five one-dayers against Bangladesh, with the first under way this weekend. Ben Pomare and Tim Pringle, who were named in the national Under-19 team that played a series of one-day matches against Australia in July, have also been selected.
All five games will be played at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln in the South Island over three weeks starting September 29, with the fifth one-dayer scheduled for October 13.
Under-19 head coach Paul Wiseman said he and assistants Graeme Aldridge and Adam Miles had a strong talent pool to choose from, making for a tough selection process.
"The U19s programme is very much about development, so we are looking to give as many players as possible a taste of international cricket," Wiseman said.
"The upcoming matches against Bangladesh are an important series and a chance for meaningful, competitive cricket.
Lellman was pleased to have been given the call-up.
"I'm pretty happy, definitely stoked with the opportunity to just have the chance to go and play obviously and it sort of just validates all the hard work we've done in the background to get there," Lellman said.
Supportive parents and good coaching networks around him definitely helps his development, says the 18-year-old who picked up a bat too young to even remember.
This year has definitely been one of reaching milestones for Lellman, who trains early mornings and afternoons every day to improve his skills, whether it's cricket-specific sessions, fitness or team trainings.
While Pringle and Pomare were playing in Australia, Lellman was also playing cricket internationally, representing a Wellington-based club team, the Hutt Hawkes men's team. He has played cricket overseas before, playing in age-group teams, but that July experience was his first playing with the men.
"It was the first the first time playing with the men over there, which is a big step up," Lellman said.
"That was definitely a big learning point over there and took a lot from that. It was a pretty cool opportunity to go over there and play," Lellman said.
Before that, he made his debut for the Bay of Plenty men's team, having previously played for the Bay men's development team that won the Northern Districts development competition. Lellman is definitely making his mark in the sport, also representng the Northern Districts Under-19 team this year, and he's hoping his national selection will be a stepping stone towards his long-term goal of representing New Zealand as part of the Black Caps squad.
"That's the end goal. I'd really love to pursue cricket as a career. I'm going down to Vic Uni next year but I think cricket will definitely be the first passion that I'll try."
He'll be studying economics and philosophy at university, but cricket, which he says has always dominated his other sports of hockey and rugby over the years, will remain a focus.
Meanwhile, the series against Bangladesh is just the beginning for the NZ Under-19 team.
"Our U19 players are looking forward to a big season, culminating in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup early next year in South Africa," Wiseman said.
"I've made it very clear to players not selected in this Bangladesh series that World Cup selection is far from locked in.
"We will be watching closely over the season, including national U19 tournaments, before making our final selection calls for a touring squad to South Africa."
The NZ Under-19s tour South Africa to play Zimbabwe, India and South Africa in one-day games in early January before the pinnacle event of the year, the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, also held in South Africa, starting for New Zealand on January 18.
NZ U19 squad for Bangladesh:
Conor Ansell (Auckland)
Adithya Ashok (Auckland)
Kristian Clarke (Northern Districts)
William Clarke (Central Districts)
Hayden Dickson (Northern Districts)
Joey Field (Central Districts)
David Hancock (Northern Districts)
Ryan Jackson (Wellington)
Fergus Lellman (Northern Districts)
Jock McKenzie (Auckland)
Rhys Mariu (Canterbury)
Ben Pomare (Northern Districts)
Tim Pringle (Northern Districts)
Quinn Sunde (Auckland)
Jesse Tashkoff (Wellington)
Devan Vishvaka (Wellington)
Ollie White (Northern Districts)
Thomas Zorhab (Central Districts)