Ashes warm-up: Schoolboy Aaron Beard, 15, enjoys England chance

Aaron Beard (right) got the chance to mingle with the England stars, here with Steven Finn

Essex teenager Aaron Beard says playing in England's Ashes warm-up match is an experience he will never forget.

The 15-year-old was a fielding substitute for the county side, but also acted as 12th man for England and took part in practice with James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

"It's my dream to play with all those players," he told BBC Sport. "It's surreal, I'm just trying to take as many tips as I can.

"It was a big experience for me that I will never forget."

Beard was initially part of the Essex academy which practised with England before the game at Chelmsford started on Sunday.

Schoolboy Aaron Beard
On the boundary: Aaron played for Essex and was then 12th man for England

Bowling in the nets, he even took the wicket of Anderson.

"Being a pace bowler I look up to James Anderson," said Beard, who is already capable of bowling at speeds of 77mph. "He smiled at me when I got him out."

When Essex suffered injuries, Beard was pressed into action as a substitute on day three and was fielding when England captain Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott shared a second-wicket stand of 119.

"Alastair Cook is an Essex player that I've seen around quite a few times. With him and Trott out there it was amazing," said Beard, who attends The Boswells School and plays his club cricket for Chelmsford.

"There was a big difference from the cricket I've played before in the gaps that they pick, how hard they hit the ball and how many times you have to run.

"As the overs went on I found it easier because I worked out what it was I had to do."

Beard again took the field for Essex at the beginning of the final day, but was then asked to act as 12th man for England as they wrapped up a 228-run win.

As well as carrying drinks for the national side, Beard bowled on the outfield during the lunch break with Anderson and Broad while England team director Andy Flower and bowling coach David Saker watched on.

"I knew I was going to be 12th man for Essex again, but I was then asked if I could take care of the England drinks, which I couldn't really turn down," said Beard.

"Anderson and Broad were saying that I have to believe in what I do, because I do it for a reason. Andy Flower was backing me because he'd seen me bowl on Sunday."

Beard had been given special permission to take time off school in order to carry out his duties with Essex and England, but will now return to the classroom on Thursday.

"I won't be doing as much work, I'll be talking quite a lot about my experiences," he said.

The right-arm seamer says his experience with England has made him more driven to become a professional cricketer, but with his next game set to be at Upminster in the Essex League Premier Division on Saturday, his father Alan says the initial priority is to keep him level-headed.

"It's going to be tough to get him back to normality," said Beard Sr.

"It's all about making sure he gets the right balance between his cricket and school life, but most importantly he has to keep his feet on the ground."

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