COLCHESTER-born Ben Allison says he was ‘thrilled to bits’ to make his first-class debut for Essex.

The former Colchester and East Essex Cricket Club youngster was handed his County Championship bow for the club in their season-opener against Worcestershire, which ended in a draw.

Allison, who as a youngster benefited from the mentoring of Colchester and East Essex bowler Ben Stephens who has coached him at his PiriPiri coaching events since he was ten years old, claimed his first-class wicket for Essex after dismissing Joe Leach.

The 21-year-old right-arm fast-medium bowler, who claimed three first-class wickets while on loan to Gloucestershire, in 2019, says making his Essex bow was a memorable experienced.

Allison told the Essex CCC website: “I’m not going to lie – I was chuffed to bits when I got given the nod by Tommy (Westley) on Thursday morning.

“I was not having to do much on Thursday or Friday but getting chucked the ball on Saturday morning, the adrenalin was going and I loved it to bits.

“I’m very grateful for the two-year extension I got last year and I need to show it in performances.

“Thrilled to bits to make by debut and hopefully, I can get a few games under my belt.

“It’s only going to get harder to get into this side when we’ve got Sids (Peter Siddle) here, which we’re all looking forward to.

“There was relief, for certain (after claiming his first wicket).

“It probably wasn’t my best ball but you take them all – some good, some bad and it’s good to get off the mark.”

Allison, who has been at Essex since he was eight years old, was a long-time member of the club’s academy.

The pace bowler says the team spirit that exists amongst the squad is a vital component, in their pursuit of more success this season.

“The best thing about Essex as a group is that we’re so tightly knit together,” said the England under-19 international.

“If we’re not playing cricket together, we’re playing golf together and if we’re not doing that, then we’re doing something else.

“We’re all very close and it’s 11 mates having fun out on the cricket field at the end of the day and the main goal is to win – thankfully, that’s what we’ve been doing.”

Essex are back in action on Thursday when they host Durham at the Cloudfm County Ground, looking to chalk up a first win of the new County Championship season.

Allison added: “There’s definitely some things to take forward and look forward to, ahead of Durham.

“It was a tough few days.

“We were probably going into that first innings thinking we’ll get a few quick wickets before the end of play which is what we got and go from there the next day.

“But give credit to Worcestershire; they played well.

“They were a few hard days but I think we’ve learnt quite a few skills and new things – with that pitch, we weren’t really expecting that, I guess.”