Young Fred heads for Dubai

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SPIN bowler Fred Bridges has swapped Broadbridge Heath Cricket Club for the sunnier climates of Dubai this month to tour with England.

The 21 year old has been part of the England Physical Development (PD) squad since its inception a little over a year ago. On Monday he left behind the freezing winter conditions to fly with the team to Dubai, where they will play a series of matches with the Pakistan PD team.

The tour takes on great significance as it is the first ever international cricket series between two physically disabled teams where both are recognised and endorsed by the governing body of cricket in their country.

Both the English and Pakistani Cricket Boards hope the tour, which begins this Saturday with a Twenty20 at the ICC Global Cricket Academy, will pave the way for many more tours of its kind to follow.

The tour was hastily arranged to coincide with the main England team’s tour in Pakistan, meaning Fred and the team went through a series of rigorous training camps in the build-up. The PD side will be hoping to fare far better then their counterparts however, who slumped to a 3-0 series defeat.

Fred’s dad, David, a Broadbridge Heath CC stalwart, said: “As I understand it they’ll be playing day-nighter games under the floodlights, which will come as a bit of a shock to Fred because he’s never played under floodlights.

“I would think the whole thing is going to be a huge experience for them all. The squad has been going for about 15 months and has been working increasingly hard for this chance.

“It’s all come round very quickly but it’s going to be great for him. Fred’s been working extremely hard, the fitness work they’ve done has been intense. He’s very excited by the opportunity and I know he’s desperate to make the starting XI from the squad of 15.”

Fred was Broadbridge Heath’s leading wicket taker last season, having broken into the first team the season before. Last season he also played for the Surrey PD side, helping them reach the semi-finals of their County Championship campaign.

England PD play Pakistan in Twenty20 matches this Saturday and Sunday, before facing the same side in One Day Internationals on Tuesday, Friday and then Sunday February 19, their final match.