Glamorgan v Yorkshire CCC - Jonny Bairstow has set the blueprint for debutant Harry Duke
AS role models go, who better than a man who has played 211 times for England in all formats, been part of successful Ashes and World Cup teams, and contributed heaps of runs and dismissals en route?
Small wonder that Harry Duke looks up to Jonny Bairstow, and cites the career path taken by his fellow Yorkshire wicketkeeper as an example of what is achievable for youngsters such as himself.
Duke, 19, is at the opposite end of the cricketing spectrum, having only made his first-class debut in the County Championship game against Glamorgan in Cardiff.
But he is quick to highlight the blueprint set by ‘Bluey’, who was himself 19 years young when he made his first-class bow against Somerset at Headingley in 2009, a landmark from which he never looked back.
“I look up to Jonny massively,” said Duke, who is highly rated by the Yorkshire coaching staff, both as a wicketkeeper and a batsman.
“You look at what Jonny’s done so far in his career and it’s unbelievable, really. He’s had such an illustrious career.
“It just gives you that confidence knowing that someone’s come through the same system as you and been successful, and that you could potentially do it yourself if you’re good enough.
“It’s a tremendous inspiration for players like myself.”
Duke, who comes from Wakefield and has worked his way up through the Yorkshire system, has plenty of Bairstow’s exuberance and energy.
An equally bubbly and effervescent character, a man who already looks as if he ‘belongs’, Duke has tapped into Bairstow’s knowledge on the way up to first-team level even though his chances to do so are naturally limited.
“I haven’t really worked with Jonny too much yet as he’s obviously away so often with England and various things,” said Duke.
“But in the conversations that I’ve had with him he’s been really helpful, which is great.
“To be honest, the keepers that we’ve got at Yorkshire are all top-class and we’ve all got very good relationships and get on really well.
“I think the wicketkeeping at the club is in a really good place.”
Duke, who is quick to praise the help that he has received from Yorkshire’s wicketkeeping consultant Paul Shaw, could have been forgiven for being a bag of nerves at Sophia Gardens.
He took to the field alongside Joe Root, the England Test captain, in a Yorkshire side that also included past or current internationals in Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Dom Bess and David Willey.
Furthermore, Duke was up against one of the world’s finest batsmen in the Australian Marnus Labuschagne, the Glamorgan overseas player.
But he took to it all like a duck to water.
“Seeing the big names you are a bit starstruck, I guess, but all the Yorkshire lads have been absolutely brilliant with me,” he added.
“They all got around me a lot and just made me feel so welcome and so calm, and the backroom staff have been brilliant too.
“It was a whirlwind few hours after I was told I was playing, and although sometimes you feel quite far away at times (from first-team level), actually you’re not.
“I felt like I had a decent start to the year in the second team, and there’s a few of us in the twos trying to knock the door down and put our names in the hat, which is all you can do.”
Not that Duke is taking anything for granted.
“To not look too far ahead I think is the key for me now and to try and enjoy every moment,” he said.
“It’s a dream to play for Yorkshire at this level, so I think that enjoying it is the main thing.”