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BEN Long celebrated his 12th birthday by taking four wickets in five balls without conceding a run on his senior league debut for Rockhampton!

The Gloucestershire age-group leg spinner struck with his very first ball for the Rams 3rdteam, wicketkeeper Josh Pirie diving in front of the stumps to claim a catch away to Whitminster 2nds.

Ben followed up with a successful lbw appeal to make it two in two balls only to be denied a hat-trick by a solid defensive shot.

But the Katharine Lady Berkeley pupil then evoked memories of Shane Warne’s miracle delivery to Mike Gatting with one which pitched just outside leg and hit the top of off for a spectacular third wicket.

And Ben, who was 12 the day before the game, kept the heat on by holding on to a caught and bowled for a fourth success and be on a hat-trick for a second time.

The youngster was again thwarted by a defensive shot before the final Whitminster wicket fell in the next over to leave Ben with the fabulous figures of 1-1-0-4!

The home side collapsed from 76-5 to 77 all out before Rockhampton went on to complete a seven-wicket win in this Stroud & District Martin Berrill Premier League encounter.

It was quite a day for the Long family as Ben’s father Dave also played a key role in the victory, claiming 4-29 with his own leggies.

The proud 48-year-old said: “But it took me ten overs to get my wickets, not five balls!

“I had a feeling Ben could do ok … he bowled three overs for 16 in a friendly the week before and kept flighting the ball really well which was a good sign.

“He immediately started putting it in the right place against Whitminster and it turned into one crazy over, it was just fantastic.”

Dave was particularly impressed with Ben’s caught-and-bowled wicket. He added: “This chap came out and he must have been 6ft 9in while Ben’s four-foot nothing … he hit it back at him quite hard so it was a good catch.”

Ben, who has been a member of the county squad for the last two summers, will on Sunday take part in a final trial for Gloucestershire under-12s.

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