Somerset’s George Bartlett is aiming to round off a memorable month in India in fitting style when England Under-19s start their second four-day match against India in Nagpur tomorrow (Tuesday).
The Somerset youngster produced a stunning individual performance in the drawn first “Test” between the teams, scoring 179 in a record-breaking partnership of 321 with captain Max Holden in the first innings, then following up with 68 in the second before an England collapse led to a breathless final session.
The following day George and the rest of the England squad added to their Indian experience with a trip to a nearby National Park – with the late sighting of a Bengal Tiger providing an unforgettable highlight. “That was a once in a lifetime experience,” reflected Bartlett. “We had to be patient, but to see elephants, monkeys, crocodiles and a tiger up close was fantastic.
“We’ve been here quite a while now and the cricket has been intense. It made sense to get out of the hotel for the day and switch off between Tests, and spend some time together as a group.
“We were all in good spirits after the first game, and we’re all really looking forward to the next one. Hopefully if we come out with the same mindset, we’ll be able to get across the line.
“It was a shame we couldn’t get those last two wickets, but there were so many positives that came out of the game. We’re expecting the pitch for the next game to turn earlier, so our first innings will again be vital in having control in the game.”
Reflecting on his own performance – a new Under-19 record for an England batsman overseas, beating Nasser Hussain’s 170 three decades ago – Bartlett admitted that it felt like a landmark knock. “I’d been frustrated in our one-day series out here because I got a couple of starts but couldn’t go on and make a big score,” he said. “I wanted to prove a point and show that I could bat for a long period of time. The heat is such a big factor out here. I was sweating a lot before I’d got 50. You need constant hydration, so obviously it’s a different challenge from batting at home.
“The pitches are different, the bowlers are different, so to spend that amount of time in the middle was great. I was really happy with the way I went in the second innings as well. The ball was starting to grip a tad so you had to dig in to get through some tough spells. I would have liked to have led the team to a higher second innings score but the way we came out and bowled meant we ended the game on a high.”