Young seamer Ethan Bamber is determined to prove himself as a Middlesex first choice and his family of actors might just help provide him with the self-belief and confidence to do so.
The 20-year-old seamer burst onto the county scene with 28 wickets at a smidgen over 20 at the back end of last season.
His list of scalps contained a number of notable names, including former England skipper Paul Collingwood, Ben Duckett, Luke Wells (twice) and England World Cup hopeful Jofra Archer.
Yet Bamber, one of cricket’s late developers, remains naturally self-effacing, a trait inherited from his family of actors, father David, mother Juliet Swift and older brother Theo.
There is a flip side, however, as the England Under-19s international feels he is also slowly inheriting the family’s ability to take on another persona – something he feels helps combat stage fright when engaged in his own piece of sporting theatre.
“I do have a lot of belief in what I do, but I do question myself sometimes,” he said.
“Perhaps my background with my family of performers speaks into my psyche subconsciously.
“My parents are very kind of modest, self-deprecating individuals as well, but they have the ability to go on stage and be someone different and there is an element of that with cricket, of course there is.
“Everyone is different on the field where you have a competitive-like edge and drive that gets you through and allows you to enter into that contest in a way which maybe you wouldn’t be comfortable with in normal life.”
Bamber revealed he has been further fortified by a fellow member of Middlesex’s fast-bowling battery.
Former England man Toby Roland-Jones, who arrived into the professional game even later than Bamber, spent time over the close season helping the youngster continue to take the necessary mental leap up to first-class level.
This and the faith shown in him by skipper Dawid Malan at the time of his breakthrough last summer are helping the Exeter Theology student avoid being star-struck as he makes his way in the game.
“I had some chats with Toby over the winter, really helpful chats about just accepting being there in a first-team game, bowling at certain players,” he said.
“It’s about accepting that it’s your place as well as theirs and you don’t have to be apologetic about that. It’s something I am working on.
“And I was fortunate also at the end of last year that Mala (Malan) entrusted me with the new ball.
“It helps when your captain gives you the ball in difficult situations, especially when you are young. It is almost a sign that he believes in you and that gives you a bit of self-belief.
“I know that I have it in me and it was really nice to see that reflected on the field, but I am conscious of the thought that if I accept that then it will disappear, so I have to keep working.
“I know I don’t have the natural flair just to sit back and things will happen. It is something I’m very conscious of that I have to keep pushing to improve my standards and raise my level, so I can compete with the best players.”
That need for continued progress has been made all the greater by the fact Roland-Jones, Steven Finn and Tom Helm have returned to fitness, pushing Bamber from the spotlight to back stage – for now at least.
He is philosophical about that, but at the same time determined to add to his armoury and that means expanding his bag of tricks in a bid to step into Middlesex’s white-ball plans during the Royal London One-Day Cup campaign, which continues with a London derby away to Surrey on Thursday.
“I’m working on developing a couple of slower balls,” he added.
“My fingers are actually not big enough to bowl a knuckle-ball, so I’m just trying to find something else deceptive.
“The game is moving forward so quickly, so it is just experimenting with that sort of stuff and also trying to nail my yorker.
“That’s an area where maybe we haven’t been as good as we could have been in the last couple of years, so something I can bring to the side.”