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A special day for Max Holden

England Under-19s coach Andy Hurry hailed “a special day for our cricket” after Max Holden and George Bartlett defied the classic sub-continental combination of heat and spin to hit centuries and share an unbroken stand of 254 on the first day of the first four-day match against India in Nagpur.

Joe Root’s appointment as England Test captain quite rightly dominated the national agenda, but who knows how significant the experience gained by Holden, Bartlett and even Yorkshire’s Harry Brook may prove in years to come.

Holden, who has resumed the captaincy of the team from Yorkshire’s Matt Fisher for the red-ball section of the tour, had struggled for runs in the one-day series.

And although Bartlett had made a couple of decent contributions, the Somerset right-hander was putting himself under as much pressure as Holden to convert a promising start into a substantial, match-shaping contribution.

They were two of only four members of this England team with previous experience of Youth Tests, whereas India’s coach Rahul Dravid fielded a much older side than he had in the one-day series.

And how they responded, after Holden had won the toss and chosen to bat.

“Batting wasn’t easy early on,” Hurry explained. “So the platform that Max and Harry Brook provided, with an opening stand of 57 in the first 20 overs, was crucial to what Max and George went on to achieve.

“But that partnership was incredible. To bat with the patience and discipline they both showed, as well as skill, against a high-quality India attack, made it a special day – for the lads themselves, for their families and all the people who have been involved in their development, but also for English cricket.”

Holden, a left-hander from Cambridge who has come through the Middlesex Academy and will start the 2017 season on loan to Northamptonshire, will resume on day two on 135 from 259 balls - and Bartlett on 132 from 203. Only the former Nottinghamshire batsman Mathew Dowman has scored more for England in an Under-19 international against England, and they are on the brink of breaking England’s all-time record for the second wicket in Under-19 cricket, set by Kadeer Ali and Bilal Shafayat against India in 2002.

“The emotion they showed at the end of the day was fantastic,” added Hurry. “They both came off very tired after such a long stint of concentration. But they were grinning from ear to ear, and the rest of the lads saluted their performance in fitting style.

“The buzz around the team is fantastic, as you’d expect. But it’s important to realise, as Max and George would be the first to say, that there’s a lot more work to do. Games can change so quickly in the sub-continent, as we’ve all seen. We’re in a great position after day one, but we’ve got to make the most of that position.”



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