England news April 5, 2013

Wright stirs England's interest

Jon Culley

Graeme Welch, the Warwickshire coach credited with transforming the fortunes of fast bowler Chris Wright, believes his protege's call-up to England's provisional squad for the ICC Champions Trophy can be the first step towards a Test career.

Welch was the driving force in rescuing Wright's career after Essex decided not to renew his contract in 2011, persuading Ashley Giles, then Warwickshire's director of cricket, to take him on loan towards the end of the 2011 season.

The transformation was immediate - a fact now recognised by England with a place in their Champions Trophy 30, a squad that must be whittled down to 15 before the tournament takes place on home soil in June.

Wright had an outstanding Championship season in 2012, taking 62 wickets at 24 runs apiece. Only Graham Onions, at Durham, took more wickets, at a much lower average of 15. Toby Roland-Jones, with 61 wickets at 19 for Middlesex, could also claim to have outstripped Wright, but Welch remains adamant of the qualities of his protégé.

"Chris had a fantastic season for us last year," Welch said, "and the way he bowled in our game against the MCC in Abu-Dhabi - against some good players such as Dawid Malan, Dale Benkenstein and Sam Northeast - I honestly believe he can go right to the top."

Welch was elevated from bowling coach to assistant coach at Edgbaston after missing out to his colleague Dougie Brown as successor to Ashley Giles as director of cricket. Both will see Wright as a key component of their attack as they seek to retain the First Division title which brought a glorious end to Giles' coaching career at Warwickshire.

Giles, now England's one-day coach as well as a selector, will need no reminding of Wright's qualities. But he is already 27 and any recognition by England now would make him very much a late developer among England pace bowlers.

"Chris has all the attributes," Welch said. "He bowls at a good pace, just back of a length and when it swings it swings. And he can hit you on the head without thinking. He has improved a lot against left-handers and he has got fitter and stronger over the winter.

"Someone has already said he is on a par with Graham Onions. If he can make a good start to the season - and the five-for in Abu Dhabi helps in that respect - he is the real deal in my eyes."

Welch had worked with Wright during a two-year stint as bowling coach at Essex before joining the Warwickshire staff, but admits his success has taken even him a little by surprise.

"The attributes were always there and I was urging Ashley Giles to get him for a couple of years before he came here but I didn't realise how good he could be and I don't think he did," he said.

"But he won't rest on his laurels. He was nearly sacked two years ago. He could have been stacking shelves in Tesco so I think he has the attitude now that if you get an opportunity you should give it your all."

Wright's 62 first-class wickets in Warwickshire's title-winning side won him his first England Lions call-up during the winter. The experience has left him with no doubts he can play at the highest level.

"Given where I was a couple of years ago it was amazing to tour with England Lions," he said. "A lot of the reason why you play is to try to represent your country at the highest level and the Champions Trophy squad, like the Lions, is a step in the right direction.

"I think I have the ability to step up to the next level but is whether the other bowlers give you a chance and there are some amazing bowlers around at the moment.

"I think it is one of those situations where you just have to keep plugging away with your county. If I did get a chance hopefully I wouldn't let anyone down."

The 30-man provisional squad for the Champions Trophy, which will be played in England and Wales from June 6-23, will be reduced to 15 next month.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hammond on April 7, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge- forgive my countryman Jonesy, getting whitewashed for the first time in 30 years has clearly addled his grey matter. England seem to have depth in most facets of the game, and they can look forward to (unlike their antopodean cousins) an extended stay at the top of the ICC test rankings.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on April 7, 2013, 7:47 GMT

    @jonesy2 : Your best post ever. And what about Australian cricket? RATFLMAO

  • CricketCoachDB on April 7, 2013, 3:23 GMT

    He's quicker and gets more bounce than Onions, attributes that would serve him well overseas. He can really swing it, but is by no means reliant on cloud cover to take wickets.

    People are looking at his career average and writing him off without realising what a massively transformed bowler he is from the guy who averaged 40 until two years ago. He is also a very good fielder and handy lower order batsman.

    For Chris Wright with the ball, read Varun Chopra with the bat: a mediocre player with Essex, an absolute run machine with Warwickshire. He always had potential and now looks like a Test quality opener-and he CAN play abroad too, he dominated the Sri Lankan domestic averages when playing there last season!

  • Whatsgoinoffoutthere on April 6, 2013, 23:48 GMT

    I wouldn't turn Wright away based on his bowling average. That sort of blunt instrument would see Andrew Flintoff (career bowling average approx 32) never having bowled in anger for England, and Chris Woakes (career bowling average approx 26) a shoe-in for a bowling place when there's a distinct suspicion that he's not quick/accurate enough. Wright, for his age, has very few miles on the clock and his average suffers from him getting regular first team cricket only recently. The last two seasons show his real potential: don't just look at a static measure like an average, look at the way his fortunes are moving.

    For the future, I like the idea of what Reece Topley could bring to the England team: a 6ft 7in left-armer over the wicket could be very intimidating, but he's not yet 20 and I'd hate to see a possible long career mangled by picking him too early.

  • Pettel on April 6, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    I havn't seen the lad bowl yet but I would not worry about the he nips it about or he swings it. Englands last 3 series, NZ, India & SA have been played on flat tracks, no swing or seem movement available, I'd ask how would he bowl in these conditions. Onions is a fine bowler in County conditions but I fear he won't take many more wickets on the good tracks you get at Test level.

  • jonesy2 on April 6, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    ha england cricket seems to go lower and lower each day.

  • 2.14istherunrate on April 5, 2013, 20:01 GMT

    I have read a number of articles claiming that England seamer stocks are not quite as prolific as was thought.Okay so Onions still has to get beyond the after effects of injury,and Bresnan the same but this story is illustrative of the fact that those who are looking in the right places can see. There are no doubt others who would fall into this category,and all it takes is for the right people to watch the right televised game to discover someone else. Remember Gough and Caddick?

  • SDHM on April 5, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    @Mitty & gemmy - it's also worth pointing out that Wright's stats, much like James Anderson's Test stats, in no way reflect the bowler he's become. He spent years in & out of the side at Essex, unsupported & ignored almost. Since moving to Warwickshire he's become almost a completely different player - I'd be willing to bet his bowling average over the past 2 seasons is well below his admittedly underwhelming career one. Nothing wrong with a bowler coming in later in their career - as gemmy pointed out, it did Sidebottom no harm, and you can use Philander as another example, or Tremlett's return in the 2010/11 Ashes. Not saying I'd pick him over someone like Harris, but I am saying he could be very effective bowler at Test level.

  • gemmy123 on April 5, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    @Mitty2 I hear where you're coming from, but its rarely that simple. There's plenty of scope for valid analysis in between the stats of average and age. Case in point - Saj Mahmood...a youngster with a good average plucked into the international arena. The result? It was pretty clear he got wickets at domestic level through pace against average players, a telegraphed slower ball and unpredictability. He couldn't apply pressure or bowl a stock delivery.

    To me its not just about youth and potential, its also a balance with consistency, tactical awareness, character and fitness. It might be that the selectors gauge Wright to have more of these qualities than his peers and hence his elevation, just like they did with Sidebottom. Admittedly his fitness faded but he was superb for 2 or 3 years.

  • Mitty2 on April 5, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    I dont really have enough knowledge of the county system and singular player's recent form... But IMO, and despite want @samuelH says, if this bloke played a test it would be a farce. Age should only come into being a factor IF the players stats and form is very similar... And the likes of Roland jones and Topley have their averages and age on the good side of 26 , unlike wright...

    All though samuelH raises a good point on the types of pitches the potential quicks bowl on, regardless, if you average 33 and are 27 and are selected for a test... It could only possibly be a reflection of a lack of pace depth.