The father of England’s newest batsman has said he remembers the first time he realised his son had a special talent, writes Hannah Dolman.
Ade Westley, 53, told The Echo about Tom’s first century at age nine, following the 28-year-old’s successful international debut in the Third Test against South Africa at the weekend.
It all began at Weston Colville Cricket Club, Ade said, when Tom and his sisters Laura and Chloe got a taste for the game.
“I never imagined back then that we would one day be at The Oval cheering for him on his Test Match debut”, he said.
“But he did always seem to have a natural ability.
“I remember his first hundred when he was nine, playing in the under-11s team, and I thought ‘you have something special’.
“I started to see how much talent he had and it’s just gone from there, from village cricket team to national squad.
“He loves to play, always has, and even now will suggest a knockabout if he comes home.
“We used to get fed up of Tom hitting the ball into a pillowcase in his bedroom because you could hear the thud thud downstairs”, Ade Westley said.
“And both of his sisters, who are a little older, used to bowl at him.
“But they used to get so annoyed, they could never get him out!
“How things change, they aren’t annoyed now.
“Watching him develop and grow — first at Weston Colville and then at Mildenhall and Essex — has been a pleasure to watch and a place on the England team is what I dreamed he could achieve.
“It’s obviously been harder for him than others to get that first call but we always had belief the call would come, he’s just got better every year.”
He said the family had been well looked after at The Oval, where the Third Test was held, when both sisters and step brother Matthew Daniels joined mum Margaret and Ade to watch.
“Laura flew back especially from the USA to surprise us all, so the whole family were there to support him, that was special”, Ade added.
“My wife Margaret turned 60 last week and we’ve all been joking that she got upstaged by Tom.
“But what a present for her really, she was so nervous for him.
“We’re just so proud and the day was very emotional, I hope that this is the first of many games for England now.”
The Westley family were not the only locals in London though, as almost the entire Weston Colville cricket club decamped to The Oval to support Tom.
First team captain Craig Williams said: “Pretty much everyone went down on Thursday to support him.
“We’re all very proud, he’s still got plenty of connections locally, with his dad and uncle still involved with the club.
“And he’s a great local ambassador, the young look at him as a bit of an idol.
“It’s such a small village and to be able to have the claim of an England player is obviously huge.
“There’s plenty of stories of when he played for us, and we’ve been keeping an eye on his progress over the years.
“He comes from a cricketing family so it’s almost in his blood. It was great to see him do well on his debut too.”