Ton-up Billy fires early warning to Lord's stars

Teenager Billy Godleman has signalled his intentions of cracking the Middlesex first team by knocking a century and a half-century in pre-season matches - writes Jonny Weeks.

Teenager Billy Godleman has signalled his intentions of cracking the Middlesex first team by knocking a century and a half-century in pre-season matches, writes Jonny Weeks.

The former Hampstead colts player (pictured) rattled 107 in a one-day victory over Essex and 55 in a three-day draw with Oxford.

But the 18-year-old is as pragmatic off the field as he is precocious at the crease.

Consequently, he knows he'll have to fight for the right to play alongside such esteemed England colleagues as Andrew Strauss, Ed Joyce and Jamie Dalrymple in the 2007 season.

"My goal this season is to dominate the second team and make sure I'm scoring enough runs to be knocking on the door of the first team," he told Ham&High Sport.

"Scoring 107 pre-season is nice but it's a pre-season game. Everyone's just getting back into it, so I'm not going to read too much into it. It's good for my confidence, but that's all."

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The left-handed opener, who was the youngest man ever to play first-class cricket for Middlesex when he made his debut against Cambridge in 2005, has been playing for England under-19s in Malaysia through the winter and is evidently more self-assured as a consequence.

"I'd like to think I could play two or three different roles in the long form of the game," he said. "I'd like to think I could bat anywhere in the top seven and last a day.

"Or within the one-day game, I hope I could come in lower down the order or open up top and really be aggressive and manipulate the ball."

Godleman played a handful of Twenty20 matches last season, with his best score being 41 runs, but his involvement with the first team was too sporadic for him to analyse the cause of the team's double relegation.

He is, however, quick to emphasise that morale in the first team is "brilliant" going into the new campaign.

He cites the introduction of Richard Pybus as head coach and Ed Smith as captain as having rejuvenated a beleaguered Lord's side.

"Since Ed took over we've had a really successful trip to Perth on the pre-season tour and the boys have slowly filtered back into the team - like Nick Compton and Owais Shah - and now Richard has just joined us, which is really exciting.

"Ed has done a lot for me already. Just little pieces of advice, different ways of looking at things within batting.

"You don't take everything that everyone says, but you can just listen to it all and see if works for you. If it does, take it; if it doesn't, let it go."

Of course, pragmatism doesnot prevent a teenager from dreaming of the distant future.

And with England faltering in the Caribbean, Godleman admits that one day he'd like to be part of a national side and lift the World Cup.

"I'd love to play for England, but one step at a time," he said.

"I'm just taking every day as it comes and doing my best in training and net sessions to make sure that I can score consistently high in the second team for Middlesex.