By RICHARD WALSH
CRAIG Overton has returned Taunton after making his debut for England in the recent Ashes series and last week he was back among his Somerset colleagues.
The 23 year old from North Devon CC was one of the few England players who enjoyed a successful tour.
On his debut Overton claimed three for 105 – Australian captain Steve Smith among them – and top scored with an unbeaten 41 runs.
In the two Tests he played before suffering a broken rib, Overton claimed six wickets at an average of 37.66.
It’s next stop New Zealand in March for Overton, who kept his place in the England squad when it was announced earlier this week.
Before then there is time to reflect on the hurly burly of playing Test cricket in the cauldron of an Ashes series.
It has always been Overton’s dream to play for England, so how did it feel when it eventually happened?
“It was a pretty special moment to pull on the England shirt for the first time and for me it was a dream come true,” said Overton.
“To make my debut in an Ashes series makes it something very special and I will remember it for the rest of my life.
“Normally you find out the day before but I found out just a few hours before, when Joe Root came up and told me that I was playing - then it was all hands on deck to get ready for the start of the game.”
What did Overton think when he was thrown the ball for the first time?
“We were bowling in the first innings of the game and there were a few showers around so I had to wait for couple of hours before bowling, which was a bit of a nerve racking time,” said Overton.
“When the skipper gave me the ball I was nervous, but once I got the first ball down the other end it was fine.
“Steve Smith was my first wicket and at the time I didn’t remember too much about it because there was so much going on.
“I saw it hit the stumps and then I was off to celebrate. That was a really special moment and I just can’t wait to get out there and take some more wickets.
“Steve Smith is a world-class player so to get him as my first wicket is something very special and one to tell my kids and grandchildren when the time comes.”
And it wasn’t just wickets that the Somerset player got in his debut Test.
“To get runs as well was a bit of a surprise because going into the game I’d had a few noughts,” said Overton.
I was happy to score my first runs and it went from there really.
“When you are facing bowlers at that level its just a case of trying to battle it out , then take your runs wherever you can.
“They are all world-class bowlers and you just have to deal with them because they are relentless and attacking you all the time.
“It was a challenge because you don’t get too many bad balls but its something you have to get used to in Test cricket.
“To be top scorer on 41 not out in my first game was a bit of a surprise but it goes that way sometimes so it was nice to be able to contribute in the way that I did.
“It’s a strange thing to have happened, especially batting at number nine, but I will take it because I don’t reckon I will top score for England too many times.”
Talking about his injury Overton said: “I got hit in Adelaide by a bouncer from Cummings that came up off a length but was then fine for a couple of days afterwards.
“I bowled in the warm-ups but then I bowled again in the Perth game and dived to stop a ball, and then when I bowled again it was much worse.
“I had a scan in Perth which showed a fractured rib so I needed three or four weeks of rest time. I stayed out there because there was a chance I would play in the last game.
“It’s nice to be back here to catch up with everyone, but I can’t really wait to go back out to New Zealand and play for England again in a different level.
“You are bowling against the best batters in the world so you have to develop those skills over time, so playing here on the wickets we have had definitely helped me in my development.”
Craig and his twin Jamie have always been fiercely competitive with each other so how did he think his brother would react to his success?
“Jamie will be fine. He just needs to stay fit and I’m sure this summer he will have a good year and he will then be close to the Test side for next winter, if not this summer!”