Max Holden, the England Under-19 captain, has been nicknamed ‘Mini-Chef’ and called ‘the new Alastair Cook’ by Northamptonshire skipper Alex Wakely after impressing everyone at the club during his extended loan spell from Middlesex.
And Wakely is better-placed than most to know. The 28-year-old explained: “I started at Bedford School during Cooky’s last year there, and so saw him when he was just a bit younger than Max is now.
“Max just reminds me so much of Alastair, in the way he bats, in the way he goes about his cricket and even in the way he looks! His work ethic is second to none, he’s England Under-19 captain as Cook was in his time and it’s no surprise the guys in the Northants dressing room have been calling him ‘Young Cooky’ and ‘Mini-Chef’! He is clearly destined for great things.”
Holden, who also shares a December birthdate with former England captain Cook but does not turn 20 until later this year, currently tops Northants’ Specsavers County Championship batting averages with 599 runs from 14 innings at 42.78. He has hit two hundreds, including a career-best 153 against Kent at Beckenham this week, and two other scores above 50.
Wakely would love to see the teenager back at Northants later this summer, after he has led England Under-19s in two ‘Tests’ against India Under-19s at Chesterfield on July 23-26 and Worcester on July 31 to August 3. Holden also captained England Under 19s in India earlier this year, and at home to Sri Lanka last summer.
“We originally signed Max on loan from Middlesex as cover for Ben Duckett, who we thought might have been involved in England’s early-season one-day internationals and then the Champions Trophy,” added Wakely.
“But we soon saw that he was well worth a regular place in our Championship team and he’s just been brilliant for us. He’s a pleasure to be around and we’re hoping that if Middlesex don’t want him in their four-day team come the end of August then he will be able to return to finish off the Championship season with us.
“Obviously, he’s a Middlesex player and it’s their call, but I know that Max wants to play county cricket whenever he can and he’s enjoyed being with us. He’s such a nice lad and he’s always the first one in the nets at practice and he hits more balls than anyone. He’s calm at the crease and shows great composure for one so young.
“He also bowls some decent off spin and there’s so much more to come from Max Holden. He’s always welcome to return to us at Northants and – who knows – if he is still struggling to get into the Middlesex side at the start of next season then we might be able to arrange another loan! It’s been great having him here and he leaves us with thanks for what he’s contributed and with many congratulations on being selected to captain England Under-19s again.”
Holden, meanwhile, confirmed that his England Under-19 experiences in India and Sri Lanka had helped him enormously during his 153 against Kent. He said: “I came in after the early wicket and knew I had to knuckle down and get myself in. It was important to play myself in and get a big score on the board.
“Yasir Shah is an unbelievable bowler and James Tredwell’s pretty handy too. They’re two world-class spinners on a pitch that did turn a little, but I’ve faced spinners before in sub-continental conditions, so I stuck to my game plan, played it one ball at a time and it all paid off.”
Shades of Alastair Cook there, too, and if Holden even comes close to matching the achievements of England’s highest Test run-scorer then he will have some career ahead of him.