The many shades of Ethan Bamber

Ethan Bamber sports a smile ESPNcricinfo Ltd

He grew up wanting to play rugby, he studies Theology, has a great interest in theatre courtesy his parents who are actors - his father David played Hitler alongside Tom Cruise in the 2008 film Valkyrie - reads a lot, is technologically challenged, prefers not having constant social media updates, and enjoys Test cricket. Welcome to the life of Ethan Bamber, an England Under-19 fast bowler who's at the World Cup in New Zealand.

For someone who is yet to come out of his teenage years, this all adds up to quite a line-up of varied interests. On the cricket field, he plays with a smile on his face. This could be misconstrued as being soft, but he is anything but that. His sound understanding of the game could originate from this fact: "I was a late starter, wasn't too good at it, and had to work incredibly hard to get here."

Outside of his cricket, Bamber has just begun his course, Bachelors of Arts in Theology - the study of the nature of God and religious beliefs. It's old school, but something he derives great joy from. "Personally, I'm not religious in any sense, but I've always been interested in why people believe so strongly in something," he says. "I was experienced from a young age about religious practices. I had brilliant teachers in senior school to inspire me and keep me interested in it. Then it seemed the most natural thing to do.

"I've just finished my first term, managed to do things here and there because of the cricket. They were basic modules that introduced me to Christian doctrines etc. Very interesting! I'm just building up and doing the groundwork, I'm really enjoying it. There aren't too many people in my course, just 40, which as compared to a field like law is very small, but a huge range of beliefs and opinions is really interesting. It's really stimulating."

Bamber can go on about it, but realises there's a paucity of time and may have to answer a few other questions, so he automatically draws you back to the cricket. "My parents knew nothing about cricket," he says. "My brother, seven years older, taught me how to play, although he would keep smashing my bowling for days and days in the back garden. My parents were incredibly supportive, though, and that is how it all started.

"Now, we've won my dad over and he turns the cricket on when I'm not there. The main thing mum and dad know about batting is you can be caught, so, if I do that, they're like 'oh no, not again, don't get caught next time'."

Bamber is a product of Middlesex's player pathway programme, which he credits for instilling the discipline needed in a young cricketer coming through. "I used to be incredibly unfit," he says. "When I was young, I used to be that guy who was quite good at the sporty side of sport but could never do the running bit. Going into the Middlesex environment, which has a huge ethos of being prepared physically and mentally, changed my views. I had emphasis on that probably since when I was 15. That is the biggest thing. Skills change but the change in attitude had allowed me to stay fit."

He does not idolise anyone but enjoys watching Chris Woakes. When he talks about Woakes, there's a spark in his eyes. He shadows a bowling action gently, even as he sits, to demonstrate what he loves about Woakes. "I don't know about the influence, but I just love him. The way he plays, the way he bowls, his action," he says. "And his batting too. Tim Murtagh is another similar bowler, whom I relate to. He always looks to work the batsman out. I've been lucky enough to play second-team cricket with him, you know."

The conversation drifts towards football, seemingly because of the interest a number of other players have in the sport. "I'm rubbish at football. Although, I'd say I'm an Arsenal fan," he says, before you even ask him about it. Then he adds: "I loved Rugby. My school was next to Saracens Rugby Club. I used to go and watch them play. My brother and I were regulars."

I ask him about the Ashes. He instantly takes you back to "that series" in 2005. "I've got DVDs of that series. The entire highlights collection," he gushes. "At that time I was too young. Even today people often refer to that series. Kept hearing a lot about it for a long time." His expression changes as he continues. "I watched this [2017-18] Ashes series. Didn't go as well as we would've liked, but it's quite obvious how much people value the Ashes."

What next then, after the World Cup, I ask. He will be back at university, preparing for the new term and another set of exams. He isn't losing sight of his cricket too, but doesn't put himself under any pressure. "Not sure what is happening with Middlesex, I'd love to get a contract with them," he says. "Hopefully my cricket keeps going forward and I can be the best I can be.

"If I am not a professional cricketer, it won't be for lack of work, but just because I am not good enough and I am prepared to accept that."

The team bus is about to leave for the hotel. Bamber has a 10 seconds more perhaps. He signs off: "But, for now, it's about beating Australia. Then the next game, then the next. Hopefully being a World Cup winner, you know."