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From Daniel Stone, United Kingdom
When I first saw 6’ 3” Matt Coles bustling in against the Indians at Canterbury, you could clearly see that this guy had talent. Even though he only bowled four overs in that match (due to heavy rain reducing the match to 20 overs per side), it was great to see a young bowler getting the ball to zip through at a decent pace. He didn't have the best of nights and got carted at the end by the magnificent Virat Kohli but I saw enough in him to believe that he is a future England star.
Before this match, Coles had played for Kent for a few years but could never establish himself into the side but regularly got chances due to the lack of resources at Kent's disposal. Kent put too much pressure on him and almost expected him to lead the attack. This led to him being overbowled and caused him to sit out a large section of the 2011 season due to injuries such as a jarred knee and a stress fracture in his left foot.
Bowling at speeds in excess of 85mph and extracting bounce off the pitch are the two vital weapons that Coles possesses which isn't surprising when you look at the sheer size of the bloke. He was clearly a confident lad and had potential but the one thing he was lacking in was accuracy. Despite having the county batsmen hopping around, he lacked the control that was required at this level by delivering too many boundary balls but at the age of 21, he clearly had time on his side.
Over the winter, he has been with the England Performance Programme and that has definitely aided his development. Working with the coaches on the batting friendly pitches of the subcontinent has seen a vast improvement in his figures in the first few matches of the 2012 county season.
Back to the bowling friendly pitches in England, Coles couldn't have wished for a better start with bat and ball. He has always been known as a useful slogger down the order but was way too inconsistent to be considered a threat. However in the first match of the season, up at Headingley, Coles smashed his maiden first-class hundred at just under a run a ball, batting at No. 9. As I said earlier, he's never been short of confidence and he proved that with an audacious reverse-sweep over point for six off leg spinner Adil Rashid to bring up his ton.
Coming off the back of that 103*, Coles then took 3-32 and 6-51 against Northants, beating the batsman with his pace and swing. He's always been a strike bowler, a partnership breaker, the go-to man and although he still is, this season it seems he is capable of bowling long spells and not only picking up wickets but also bowling economically.
After his impressive performances away from home, Coles continued his good form with the ball, taking 4-70 and 3-55 and was one of the shining lights in a pretty miserable match for the home side.
It's still too early for him to be considered for national selection but his inclusion in the Lions side will only help him get further recognition. Still 21, if he continues to progress at his current rate then a place in the England team in a few years time doesn't seem as ludicrous as first thought.
If he does go on to represent his country then it will probably be in the ODI side first, partly due to the fact that his big-hitting, wicket-taking and good death bowling makes for a deadly combination and also, England are more willing to try out youngsters in this form of the game.
An excellent Friend's Life t20 could see him on the plane to Sri Lanka but whatever happens this summer, Matt Coles has a bright future ahead of him, whether it is for his county or country.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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