Four-year-old cricket prodigy Billy Carroll has been glued to the Ashes on TV, but his father and great-grandfather have bet on him as the future of the sport at odds of 1,000-1 that he one day plays for England.
Father Paul, 34, and great-grandfather Donald, 86, have wagered £25 and stand to win 25,000 from bookmakers William Hill if Billy goes on to bat for his country in either a Test, Twenty20 or one-day international.
Standing at the crease at Buttershaw St Paul’s, near their home in Wibsey, Bradford, Billy’s head is only just above the stumps, so almost every ball bowled to him could be deemed a bouncer.
But the cricketing prodigy takes it all in his stride and has been fast-tracked into a team where the other players are more than twice his age and often a lot taller.
His batting and bowling skills have already won him a regular place in Buttershaw St Paul’s cricket club’s under-nine side, but his ambition is to take to the pitch at Headingley and beat the Australians like his England heroes.
His proud father Paul and mother Louise are backing his bid to follow in his Yorkshire hero Joe Root’s footsteps and one day play for England in an Ashes series.
Big brother Elliott, 13, and sister Emily, 10, also cheer him on from the pavilion as goes out to bat against boys sometimes double his size.
The feat continues a family tradition as his father did the same thing 29 years ago, having joined the team at the age of five.
Mr Carroll, who still bats for the first team at the club in the Central Yorkshire League, said: As a parent you always think your own kids are the best at everything but Billy has left all of the coaches stunned.
“The chance to place the bet with William Hill was too good not to risk £25 as both his great-grandfather and I know how dedicated Billy is to the game.
“On a school day he’s out bright and early with his bat and asks me to bowl a few at him before he goes and then when he’s back home he’s picking up his bat again for a few more overs.
“He’s been glued to the Ashes and is watching it with me as Joe Root is his hero and we all like to see the Aussies get hit for six.
“Other teams that come to play us are always gob-smacked at how good he is, they just can’t believe he’s only four.”
Electrician Mr Carroll backed Billy’s dreams of becoming a professional and playing for his country.
He said: “It’s all he wants to do and he just has unbridled enthusiasm for the game.
“When he isn’t playing he comes along to watch me play or he watches cricket on TV. He knows the rules and knows how to keep score and not many four-year-olds can do that.
“I’ve played cricket all my life but have never seen anyone as good a player as Billy is at just four, so we felt it was worth the flutter. We are all so proud of him.”
Billy, who stands just over three feet tall, said: “We’ve won the Ashes and when I get bigger I want to hit lots of sixes just like Joe Root.
“I can only hit fours at present, because I need to be a bit bigger and stronger to hit a six.”
William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said: “We’ve been bowled over by little Billy’s enthusiasm for the game.
“It’s safe to say he’ll hit us all at William Hill for six if he plays for England and his dad and great grandad get their bet over the line.”