Palladino dreaming of key role at Chelmsford

PUBLISHED: 11:30 17 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:12 05 October 2010

By Paul Hiscock TONY Palladino is living the dream. Born and bred in the East End, Palladino used to imagine becoming a professional cricketer and emulating his childhood hero Ian Botham. Now at the age of 24, he is ready to establish himself in the Essex

By Paul Hiscock

TONY Palladino is living the dream.

Born and bred in the East End, Palladino used to imagine becoming a professional cricketer and emulating his childhood hero Ian Botham.

Now at the age of 24, he is ready to establish himself in the Essex team and help spearhead the county's promotion bid in the LV County Championship Division Two.

"I feel that my career moved forward last year and I got a decent run in the first team but now I have to establish myself in the first eleven," Palladino said ahead of Essex's season opener against Northamptonshire, which began at Chelmsford yesterday.

"There is a lot of competition for places but I feel good about my game and life in general and I'm ready to make the push towards the next stage of my career development."

Palladino took the first steps on the path to a cricket career at the tender age of eight, but he was already dreaming of a future in the sport.

"I played cricket at my junior school, Holy Family in Poplar, and we won a Kwik Cricket competition at The Oval - but the game was already in my blood by then," he revealed.

"My dad played club cricket and I would go with him every weekend. I was always on the sidelines practising batting and bowling, and when we were at home I'd be bowling in the garden.

"I also watched tons of videos, particularly of By PAUL HISCOCK

Ian Botham because he was a hero.

"I got selected to play for Tower Hamlet Under-11s when I was 8 and that was a bit daunting, playing against kids three years older than me, but I must have done okay because I was then picked for London Schools Under-11 team.

"When I started secondary education, I went to Cardinal Pole School and continued playing for the London Schools sides. I was 15 when I was spotted by Essex and started paying for their youth teams."

Although he cites Botham as a cricketing hero, the pace bowler names his parents as the biggest influences on his career.

"They always kept my feet on the ground and made sure I always did my schoolwork.

"My dad, who works for Tower Hamlets council, was a massive influence. He was always there for me whenever I wanted advice, he drove me to matches and he was always around.

"He could be a harsh critic and a bit strict at times but was always ready to encourage and help me. He's one of the main reasons that I'm playing county cricket."

Palladino signed a two-year deal with Essex towards the end of last season and he admits that show of faith by the county was a huge boost after a spate of niggling injuries slowed his progress.

He said: "It showed they had faith in my ability and I want to repay that by helping the county to success both this year and in the years ahead. I've worked hard during the winter with Graeme Welch, the new bowling coach.

"There is a lot of competition for places but hopefully, I'll get an early opportunity. I'll certainly be ready when the call comes.

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