Aaron Paul Beard
October 15, 1997, Chelmsford, Essex
Left hand bat
Right arm fast medium
Not many, least of all the Sri Lankan tourists, knew much of Aaron Beard when he ran in for the first ball of their 2016 tour of England, but he certainly knew how to draw attention to himself. With wickets in each of his first two overs, the 18-year-old Chelmsford-born schoolboy began his first-class career in dreamy fashion as he picked apart Sri Lanka's top order.
Beard, who has been with Essex since he was nine, ended with 4 for 62 as the Sri Lankans were bowled out for 254. Two back operations before that debut invited questions as to whether his slender frame could withstand the rigours of first-class cricket, but his mentor, Graham Napier, was just one person impressed with a fine technique. His introduction to the first team was done sparingly, though Beard's promise shone through again in 2019, as he produced a new first-class best in Essex's title-winning season.
Beard also had the odd distinction of being a substitute fielder for England during a 2013 Ashes warm-up against Essex at Chelmsofrd when he was aged just 15 - a responsibility perhaps unique for somebody of such a tender age.
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