Middlesex bowler Helm happy to be in England squad

Middlesex bowler Tom Helm on England Lions duty

Middlesex bowler Tom Helm on England Lions duty - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Middlesex’s Tom Helm has been given another reason to celebrate the start of the new season after he was called up to England’s 24-man behind-closed-doors training group ahead of the Royal London Series against Ireland.

Helm will join the camp in the bio-secure bubble at the Ageas Bowl on July 16 ahead of the three-match series, which will begin on July 30 in Southampton.

The 26-year-old right-armer had been a part of the England training group ahead of the West Indies series and did enough to ensure he will get another chance to impress the England management, with Paul Collingwood set to assume the head coach role for the series.

It is vindication of the hard work Helm has done during lockdown as the Marylebone resident had focused his attention on a return to domestic action with Middlesex from August 1.

And he admits that lay-off has ensured he will not take the opportunity ust to play cricket again for granted.

“After what’s gone on the last few months, everyone will be blessed to be playing any cricket at all,” he said.

“I think there’ll be a lot of joy around because we’re getting back to doing what we love.

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“The county season is long and there are moments in a normal summer where people have probably had enough of it.

“But I think the pandemic has made people realise just how good the game is and how much they’ve missed it.

“Players might be rusty to start with, but I think you’ll see a lot of carefree cricket and people really enjoying it rather than stressing about it too much.”

On the domestic front a vote of the first-class counties this week resulted in a majority agreement to play both red and white-ball cricket this summer.

Whatever format awaits in domestic cricket, Helm will be hoping for a few ‘carefree’ shots from opposing batsmen, given bowlers face several big challenges because of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

There will be new regulations regarding shining, or perhaps not shining the ball, plus the 26-year-old believes it may take a game or two for bowlers to truly ‘hit their straps’.

The England squad are due to play a pair of warm-up matches in preparation for the Ireland series as they look to fine-tune their skills.

“The ball will definitely be affected if you can’t shine it and make it swing as it normally would in this country,” continued Helm.

“So, it may be more of a batsman’s game to begin with, but I don’t think that will last for long. I’m sure something will come about that everyone will be allowed to do, and which will mean the ball moves not too dissimilarly to normal.”

Helm has at least had a little longer to prepare than most after his call-up to England’s white-ball training squad last month.

Covid regulations meant it was anything but a normal call-up with Helm doing most of his work away from other squad members, albeit under the watchful eye of long-time mentor and Middlesex coach Alan Coleman.

“I had a specific time I had to arrive and you couldn’t be too early,” he added.

“I’d bowl for half an hour with my own ball, which no-one else could touch, do some running, then get back in my car and go home.

“But it’s good to know I’m somewhere on England’s radar and hopefully I’ve put my hat in the ring with some sort of a chance.”