Nottinghamshire off-spinner Matthew Carter says he was so dumfounded by his maiden England Lions call-up that he wondered whether it was all an elaborate hoax.
The 22-year-old had the pleasure of receiving the good news from his former Outlaws teammate – and current national team selector – James Taylor.
“It came as a complete shock,” said Carter. “I got a phone-call at about six o’clock on Thursday night from Titch. I didn’t even have his number.
“I listened to what he had to say, took it all in – and then after I put the phone down, I wondered if the whole thing was a joke. It was so out of the blue.
“Then I rung my mum, my dad, my brothers and my girlfriend straight away and said ‘oh my God, listen to this’.
“It makes me feel pleased that I’m getting looked at by the right people. People have been saying for years that England need a good spinner, and that’s good for me. It gives me the drive to work harder and see if I can get into that bracket.”
Carter has been called-up for the 50-over leg of a tour of India taking place in January.
Having taken 13 wickets in five matches at an average of 15, collected two four-wicket hauls and sustained an economy rate of 4.6 runs-per-over in the format in 2018, Carter is planning to adapt to new surroundings by sticking to what he knows.
“I’m looking forward to the experience of playing out there against batsmen who are used to playing a lot of spin,” he said.
“For me it’s about the challenge of trying to get them out in their own backyard.
“I won’t try anything different. I’ve done a lot of work on my bowling, getting everything fully grooved in. It’s just a case of following on from last year.”
For Carter, running out in Thiruvananthapuram with the three lions on his chest will be a far cry from the not too distant memory of losing his place in Lincolnshire’s under 16s.
It was, however, from that moment of disappointment that a defining decision would be made.
“As a junior I was an opening batter and a seamer,” he said. “I went through all the age-groups and then got dropped by Lincolnshire under 16s. I thought ‘stuff it, I’m going to try and bowl spin’.
“I’d already got to a point where my bowling wasn’t getting any quicker and I’d started trying loads of slower-balls and off-cutters.
“So, I became a spinner, and that’s when I met Mark Fell. He was coaching the age-group above, the under 17s, and said to me ‘you may have been dropped from the 16s, but you can bowl spin and bat in the top order for me.’
“If I’d carried on bowling seam, I’d be nothing more than an alright club cricketer. I’d have definitely given up on trying to follow it as a career.”
Be there for every ball next year, including seven T20 Vitality Blast games, by joining our family as a Member. You'll also save up to £20 off England v Pakistan Royal London ODI tickets and have access to the exclusive Members' Pavilion. Learn more...
Alternatively, priced at just £100 for adults, £70 for seniors and £227 for a family of four, you can pledge your support by purchasing an Outlaws Season Ticket.
The season ticket will cover all scheduled home cricket in the T20 Vitality Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup, plus a priority purchase window for any knockout stage cricket at Trent Bridge.