Tom Helm believes he is ready to make the step up to international level but is not expecting to be the next paceman England turn to for their injury-hit Ashes squad.
Helm was touted as a replacement for stricken Middlesex team-mate Steven Finn before Surrey’s Tom Curran got the nod, although Jake Ball’s sprained ankle suffered in an Adelaide warm-up may precipitate another change.
Even if Ball were to become the latest withdrawal, Helm, with only 17 first-class matches under his belt and having recently returned to bowling off a full run-up following his own injury, feels his inexperience may count against him.
Fast bowlers Curran and Craig Overton are two of four uncapped players in the squad, so Helm, also yet to play for England, thinks the more seasoned Liam Plunkett or Mark Wood could be ahead of him in the pecking order.
On the prospect of a maiden England call-up, he said: “I’d be lying if I said the thought didn’t cross my mind but my hopes aren’t particularly high for that.
“Personally I don’t think it would be too soon, if I did get the call I think I’d be ready to go. But I’m not minded to think I’m next in line.
“I don’t think I’m miles off but there’s Plunkett, there’s Wood, there’s a handful of guys that are there or thereabouts in the same boat.
“I think with the relatively inexperienced squad that they’ve already got out there, I think I’d probably add to that inexperience quite a lot.”
There is much excitement around the potential of Helm, renowned for generating pace and bounce consistently at about 85mph, but he has had his fair share of injury setbacks over the last couple of years.
He is working his way back to full fitness following a niggling hamstring concern that disrupted his summer although he was Middlesex’s leading wicket-taker in the NatWest T20 Blast. And his relief in avoiding another serious injury is palpable.
He said: “To be brutally honest, it’s my first full season and I was over the moon to get out the end without being in a cast at some point.
“I wouldn’t say my body really feels any different but mentally I probably am, knowing that I’ve got through a whole season and I can actually do it has probably given me a bit of a boost. I guess I played enough cricket but if I played as much, if not more, next year then I’d be pretty happy.”
The 23-year-old is preparing to head to Australia on November 14 as part of a four-week camp with England Lions, which will be split between red- and white-ball training in Brisbane and Perth respectively.
It will be his first proper playing experience Down Under although he has fond memories of the country, having travelled there with his family as a teenager to watch three Tests in England’s historic 2010-11 victory.
He said: “My mam, dad and brother went. It was about a month so it was Perth, Melbourne and Sydney and it matched up when they played their Tests. It was a pretty special trip.”