England news

Five England players to watch

After the horrors of the Ashes series, the performances of England's up-and-coming players will come under fresh scrutiny. Here are five players who will be yearning to become the stars of tomorrow

George Dobell and David Hopps

December 18, 2013

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Tymal Mills is helping England prepare for the Ashes, Perth, October 30, 2013
Tymal Mills battered and bruised England in the nets during the Ashes build-up © Getty Images

After the horrors of the Ashes series, with England conceding the urn in only 14 days' cricket, the performances of England's up-and-coming players will come under fresh scrutiny, beginning with the England Lions tour to Sri Lanka and next summer's LV= County Championship.

ESPNcricinfo will be there in force. In the meantime, here are five uncapped Test players with the potential to forge an England career in the years ahead:

Moeen Ali:

Age: 26 Club: Worcestershire Record: 6388 first-class runs at an average of 37.79; 125 first-class wickets at an average of 42.32.
An elegant batsman and pleasing off-spinner, Moeen Ali showed he had added substance to his style by winning the PCA's most valuable player award for the 2013 season and scoring more Championship runs (1375) than anyone else, albeit in Division Two. Whether he can be considered any more than a second spinner is debatable - that first-class bowling average remains stubbornly high - but his friend Saeed Ajmal has taught him how to bowl the 'doorsa' legally - Moeen is the only England player to have this information - and, as he bowls with more pace, his bowling should increase in potency. The fact that Joe Root can already be considered a respectable second spinner may count against Moeen but he does have the class to break into the side as a specialist batsman.


Tymal Mills:

Age: 21 Club: Essex Record: 102 first-class runs at an average of 7.84; 32 first-class wickets at an average of 35.71.
At first glance, the suggestion that Tymal Mills might be an England player of the near future is absurd: he claimed only six Championship wickets in 2013 and is far from an automatic selection in Essex's Division Two side. But Mills, a strong, slingy left-arm seamer not a million miles from Mitchell Johnson style, is blessed with unusual pace and, after roughing up the England players in a warm-up match ahead of the Ashes in England and again in the nets ahead of this series, may well find himself fast-tracked. His Essex colleague, 19-year-old Reece Topley, is also a left-arm seamer of substantial promise and may go on to have the better career, but it is Mills' pace that places him in a special category. Both men emerged through an Essex system that has an outstanding record for producing young players, but a less impressive one of seeing them to develop to their full potential.


Sam Robson:

Age: 24 Club: Middlesex Record: 3851 first-class runs at an average of 39.70; 0 first-class wickets.
An opening batsman who bears a striking resemblance to Mike Atherton, Sam Robson enjoyed a fine season in the county game and then made centuries in successive matches for the England Performance Programme on their tour of Australia recently. Adept at concentrating for long period and excellent at leaving deliveries outside off stump, Robson was hailed by his Middlesex captain, Chris Rogers, as a man who had already batted through a day's play more often than him. He must be considered a viable long-term bet as Alastair Cook's opening partner. Australian-born and a representative of their U19 side, Robson utilised his British passport courtesy of his Nottingham-born mother - his father and brother also have experience in the county game - to pursue a career in England. Such was Australia's concern at losing him, they changed their own rules so that dual passport players could be eligible to play in more than one country at a time.


Jos Buttler

Age: 23 Club: Lancashire Record: 2031 first-class runs at an average of 31.73; 0 first-class wickets.
At the start of his first-class career, Jos Buttler was made much in the mould of a limited-overs specialist. His batting interventions could be explosive and innovative and, as he unveiled his ramp shot for the first time, he promised to bring new dash to England's T20 side. But last summer something clicked. Buttler's Championship innings suddenly became more considered, his mind more attuned to the need to build longer innings, and the result of that was 815 runs at 36.28 and a recognition of a more rounded game. Some progress then. England have taken notice. If there is a reluctance to give Jonny Bairstow the gloves, it is explained in part by their conviction that Buttler has the potential to become England's wicketkeeper in all three forms of the game. His determination to advance his keeping, so far rudimentary, was seen in his determination to keep wicket in the Championship, leading him to leave Somerset, where Craig Kieswetter had the gloves in four-day cricket, for Lancashire at the end of the season.


Jamie Overton:

Age: 19 Club: Somerset Record: 41 first-class wickets at 35.36.
There are times when life running a county cricket club can be so frustrating. Years are spent investing in a player of high promise and, the moment he is unveiled, England send down a selector, or member of the coaching staff, to take a look, and in no time at all, he is missing Championship cricket so he can hang around the England dressing room, get to know people, and be educated in strength and conditioning programmes and a lot more besides. That has never been more apparent than in the case of Jamie Overton last season. England think highly of this strapping Devonian, not yet 20, who already touches 90mph, hits the pitch in aggressive fashion and bowls a decent bouncer. Overton did not bowl a single delivery after he was called up for the one-day series against Australia, but as Somerset struggled to avoid relegation, England's intentions to take early ownership of him could hardly have been made more apparent.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by SaracensBob on (December 22, 2013, 1:47 GMT)

Think Warwickshire's Keith Barker should be in your list of hopefuls. He made lots of valuable mid-to-late order runs in the Bears' championship win last but one season. He also took a hell of a lot of wickets at a damn good average. He has the look of a genuine all-rounder. All-rounders need to be top-drawer bowlers who can bat explosively before the tail come in (Botham, Hadlee, Imran Khan, Jaques Kallis ) not decent batsmen who can turn their arm over (Ben Stokes). I think Eng. should be playing Stokes right now but he is not a strike bowler.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 20, 2013, 15:49 GMT)

@NRC1979, You do Ballance a disservice in this years CC he scored 1200+ runs at a shade of 62, with 5 tons and 6 fifties from 21 innings, thats a very good conversion, and he was by far the leading English qualified batsman in the averages list.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 20, 2013, 15:43 GMT)

@Onlinepoet2000, I did qualify Rashid's bowling and state that he was missing a tight stock delivery, which is a pre-requisit for a leggy, hes only 25/26, which is still very young.

Briggs does have the stats behind him and is the youngest spinner to 100 FC wickets since Deadly again at 22/23 is one waiting.

Rafiq has one major problems hes at Yorks where rashid is the prefered spin option. That said hes still 22/23 and if he can get into a county where he'll first choice he could be an option to replace swann.

In regards to stokes hes a promising talent but 1 FC 5'fer in 61 games isnt a great advert to being an all rounder, if he was taking more wickets in FC then maybe I would consider him an allrounder, at the moment hes more Colly MK II, than a genuine allrounder.

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 20, 2013, 15:31 GMT)

all pretty ordinary nothing to suggest any of them will be anything but you don't know I guess. I already knew but its nice to know the ashes wont be going anywhere for a long time

Posted by NRC1979 on (December 20, 2013, 14:34 GMT)

If averages are so important, I suppose we should encourage all our cricketers to go to Zimbabwe for a first class season or two. Balance averaged over 75 in two seasons there and scored tons for fun - goes a long way to explain his FC average of over 50 which will no doubt have influenced the selectors

Posted by Onlinepoet2000 on (December 20, 2013, 13:27 GMT)

@YorkshirePudding: Valid points, but I would disagree with your qualification of Stokes as a "batsman who bowls a bit". His FC average is a mere 36. Yes, he may improve. To be selected as a batsman in a world beating test squad you need to average atleast 40+ as a youngster. Stokes gets the nod in due to his bowling, which again is not good enough to merit his place in the team. He is a bits-and-pieces allrounder. However, I wouldn't write him off just yet. The boy has impressed with his grit.

As for Rafiq, Briggs and Rashid, I doubt they are good enough to make the cut in test cricket against world-class opposition. Rashid did promise a lot in the beginning but sadly his bowling has waned away. Quality spinners are as rare as hen's teeth in England for obvious reasons.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (December 20, 2013, 10:43 GMT)

So it means cricket is really on decline in UK. Not a single player with 40+ average on the list.

Posted by ruester on (December 20, 2013, 10:33 GMT)

We have been thrashed this Ashes and there is no hiding from it. Let's not go back to the knee jerk reactions of bygone days. Remember this same side with a few young players has been the most incredibly successful England side in decades. You don't drop quality players because they lose one series. The great Aussie side of the past didn't drop a player because of a spell of poor form, it was harder to get out of that side than get in once you where in. The Aussie selectors knew who there best players were. They stuck by them. England must do the same and integrate the youth slowly, particularly as Trott looks like he will struggle to come back. So let's just calm down and stick with our new opener, no three and number six and let's not think of discarding KP who has served his country amazingly well and is the most special talent England has. Do some of you think we should drop Cook and prior as well? Stick by Your team doubters! Swann and Anderson still have a lot to offe

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 20, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

@dreamliner, Well the one problem you have is that Robson doesnt qualify for selection until next summer, although hes been given special dispensation to go on a lions tour.

In regards to Moeen, there were and are batsmen above him and they are in the main on this tour, granted hes had a good 2013 but prior to that he has been very inconsistent.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 20, 2013, 9:14 GMT)

@valvolux, Its an interesting quandry, is it that the bowling is better quality, the batting worse, or have the pitches made batsmen worse and bowling better.

Anyone who played FC games at OT last year might suggest the pitch was worse, but a few years ago the ECB issued instructions for groundsmen to limit the amount of use of the heavy roller when preparing pitches to try and get 'life' back into the pitches.

There are a few interesting talents around Lees at Yorks, Sibley at Surrey but they've played less than 10 FC games.

In terms of keeping there are Kieswetter, Buttler, Bairstow, and Davies. Now that Buttlers moved from Somerset to Lancs he should get more games and it will be interesting to monitor his improvement.

Bowling, lots of promising candidates, outside of Mills, Overton mentioned, there is also Jack Leach, Jack Brook, and Moin Ashraf who are just starting so thier averages can be volatile.

Posted by dreamliner on (December 20, 2013, 9:10 GMT)

I have said this before, we should have blooded Robson(opening) and Ali(no3) earlier to give them something to play for.

@NRC1979 Role of part time spin in tests: how can you use your perceived failure of spinners as a basis to demean the potential of others. Give them the opportunity to prove themselves, and stop associating them with the failure of others. To demonstrate my point was Moeen's 5for in the test against Queensland XI not a sign of potential; when your premium bowlers are going for some or match conditions (pitch, light, over rate) require something else, these part time options provide the captain with a real 'breakthrough' option.

The selectors need to start earning their money.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 20, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

@Onlinepoet200, I agree with you on the likes of Stokes, Woakes, Rashid and Rafiq, to a degree, you can argue that Rafiq might get into the side on his bowling alone so the fact he knows which end of the bat to hold is a bonus, though Briggs is probably ahead of him in the bowling.

Rashid is a strange case he has the promise to be a good spinning all rounder like Ashwin, the problem he has is that hes missing a good tight stock delivery that can tie batsmen down.

Stokes has done well a ton inside his first 4 test innings, but if hes there as an all rounder 5 wickets in 2 game at 47 isnt good enough, he needs to be taking 2-3 per innings. At the moment hes a batsman who turns his arm over, like Colly.

Unfortunately they only have the squad that they have so have to pick what they see as the best line up for a particular pitch.

Posted by valvolux on (December 20, 2013, 7:29 GMT)

So in summary, once KP, Trott, Swann, Anderson, Prior and co. retire, which will all be around the same time, there's nothing knocking the door down. Australia will be in a similar place in a few years, but at least has a wealth of young fast bowlers and a few batsmen like Smith and Hughes who have test experience, even if they havent set the world alight. What is it with English batsmen averaging so poorly in county cricket? Have the wickets changed? Always puzzled me how the likes of Michael Hussey, Michaels brother David, Rogers..theres plenty more...pump up their first class averages and numbers of centuries when playing county cricket....yet struggle to get a game for australia.

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 20, 2013, 0:03 GMT)

@ Nutcutlet on (December 19, 2013, 8:30 GMT): I feel your pain. That's been happening to me as well. .. I like to think mine were gloriously incomprehensible. I think I prefer that out of all the options you listed. .. I have to admit that 'offensive' has it's charms as well, but generally speaking I know when I'm trying to offend and I can't recall setting out to do that lately.

Posted by HatsforBats on (December 19, 2013, 21:17 GMT)

The next Ashes series will see two very different looking sides competing for the urn. Some excellent young English talent is already showing incredible potential (re: Stokes, Root). Australia have some excellent bowling stocks coming through, but we are still a little shy on young bats putting up big, consistent numbers (hopefully the return of our shield pitches to "normality" will allow us to identify them a little easier).

I have to say though, all that roughing up Mills did in the nets? Didn't really pay off did it?

Posted by Onlinepoet2000 on (December 19, 2013, 20:45 GMT)

(AKA The Big Fat Flapjack) Leaving aside Mills, relying on players like Ali, Rashid, Stokes and co to meet the cut in test cricket provides ample evidence of England's muddled selection policies. The aforementioned players are bits-n-pieces players and England's over-reliance on such players to form the core of a world-beating test squad or expecting them to become genuine all-rounders in the mould of Sobers, Imran Khan or Botham will only end in disappoinment. None of the bits-n-pieces allrounders, other than Freddie (who had some skill with the ball), will win you test matches. A very successful test squad is built upon specialist players (eg the great Windies teams and Australia). England's dependance on "all-rounders" harks back to the 90s when they were a middling team who got bashed around especially when conditions were not in their favour. It can also be noted that the lower ranked teams (Bang, Zim, NZL, Windies) include several bits-and-pieces allrounders. Coincidence anyone?

Posted by bobmartin on (December 19, 2013, 19:03 GMT)

The ability of a coach/selector to spot latent talent is what sorts out the best ones from the also-rans. As has already been mentioned... Fletcher spotted Trescothick and Vaughan... who weren't exactly setting the county circuit alive... and they didn't do too badly at test level.. On the other hand... Flower seems to have developed this closed shop within which there are an elite number of players who irrespective of form continue to win selection... The odd player is brought in, but rarely makes it into the inner sanctum.. Taylor, and Compton are two who spring immediately to mind. This has resulted in a squad lacking in experienced battle-hardened reserves... so that when the elite squad collectively fails and disaster strikes ...as has just happened with three thrashings in a row and the loss of the Ashes... who has he got to go turn to ?.. Many years ago I was given a superb piece of advice.. Fail to prepare. prepare to fail.. How true that has turned out to be..

Posted by Iwerneanffontmell on (December 19, 2013, 17:18 GMT)

Duncan Fletcher picked Trescothwick out as he played big innings on big occasions against good opposition - the same applied to Michael Vaughn. He picked players with the character to play at the top and improve as a result. Some people call this class...... Some players thrive on scoring runs and/or taking wickets while others enjoy the big occasion so I think it is impossible to make hard and fast judgements based on averages. Just look at Graham Hick, Mark Ramprakash and John Crawley who couldn't make high FC averages count in Test cricket. The current England set-up has been successful at gelling many existing talents into a top side but I haven't seen much in the way of new talent come through - particularly on the bowling front. Joe Root and latterly Stokes have made a mark but noone else has taken their chance. Basically there is a distinct lack of class around and little else coming over the horizon which is why KP still gets the nod.

Posted by TheBigFatFlapjack on (December 19, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

@Paul Rone-Clarke: you have a point, and I would extend what you are saying to international cricket as well. The inflated averages of current batsmen can be explained due to the lack of modern-day "Wasim Akrams". The drought in wicket taking test bowlers have resulted in a rainfall of batsmen with 50+ averages. In my day (in the 90s) anyone with a 40+ Test average was considered great. Boycott, Greenidge, Desmond Haynes 'only' averaged in the 40s and all-time greats such as Sir Viv and Allan Borders' averages barely pushed 50. Going back to your point though, I would rate a batsmen with a 35+ average in Div 1 higher than a 40+ batsmen in Div 2 due to the relatively better bowlers in Div 1.

Posted by TheBigFatFlapjack on (December 19, 2013, 13:12 GMT)

I concur with most of the sentiments on here - a good FC average is a reasonable indicator of a player's ability to succeed at international level. It is not an absolute indicator though, and there are numerous players with eye-catching FC stats but poor Test records. As someone here rightly pointed out highly successful county pros at the fag end of their career have brilliant FC records and some of them may have reasonably successful international careers if selected, albeit for a brief period (e.g. Ryan Sidebottom, Ryan Harris, Stuart Clarke). Younger players on average have poorer FC stats but that could be due to the fewer games they've played. In another 10 years Mills may have a better FC record to reflect the quality of his bowling. So, in a way the England team's philosophy of investing heavily in talent makes sense. The only drawback of their thinking would be an inability to consistently win Test matches with players who are still a 'work in progress'.

Posted by 2929paul on (December 19, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

@Nutcutlet I fear Chris Jordan's action will cause him too many back problems. He's already had back injuries and his pace seems to rely on a "strong" upper body, rather than an action that generates pace.

There are some bowlers with absolutely dreadful bowling actions around that "do a job" and have success at County level. Occasionally we'll see a lad bowl at 90+ on the tv in a limited overs game and be impressed but that doesn't mean he's got what it takes to play Test cricket any more than someone who takes 60 wickets at 20 apiece over the course of a season. I think our bowling coaching at junior level throughout the country is terrible looking at the basic errors in the actions of so many of the "prospects" and established County plodders around.

Posted by mikeyp147 on (December 19, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

I'm not sure averages are too relevant, particularly when we're talking about young players with limited experience.

I seem to recall that Trescothick and Vaughan (to name but two) had none-too-sparkling county records when they were spotted by England, and the Aussies and Pakistan - for instance - have been plucking young players from relative obscurity for years now.

As YorkshiePudding has pointed out, the players with the best averages at county level tend to be the old stagers, who have no hope of playing for their country again.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 19, 2013, 11:51 GMT)

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 19, 2013, 11:13 GMT). Thanks for the empathy, mate. As TS Eliot says: 'For us there is only the trying, the rest is not our business.' (always in my back pocket - so useful;-)). Now, to your comment.. Magoffin is a Sussex Aussie, probably likes beaches. It is his 4th county, so I can understand your confusion. I think he's had quite a lot to do with Chris Jordan's progress & I'll be very surprised if he's not a Test player in a year or so.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 19, 2013, 11:13 GMT)

@Sohrab Mushtaq, Averages arnt everything, for example inthe Div 1 2013 season

Magoffin (Surrey), took 63 wickets @ 21, AGE : 34 TJ Murtagh (Middlesex) 60 wickets @ 20, Age : 32 SideBottom (Yorks) 49 wickets @ 20, AGE : 36 Chris Rushworth (Durham) 54 @ 22 : AGE 27

Woakes 31 @ 22, Age : 24 (but was lambasted at the Oval)

There are also 3 players with 25 or better averages on the tour, these are Rankin, Bresnan, and Broad. Onions is the one bowler I'd have had on the current tour that is missing.

So its not all about averages its also about temperament, and age. the bowlers mentions Mills and Overton (especially) are future contenders for england selection but they need to play games to get thier averages down.

Posted by   on (December 19, 2013, 10:37 GMT)

Averages do matter! England r making blunders by not selecting players according to good averages in the domestic cricket! They go by 'this player is talented'.. Gary Ballance and James Taylor r the players who deserved every match of this Ashes... And while selecting bowlers they shud also look at their first class averages! Shud average below 25 at least... The above mentioned players r nothing to watch out for! Bad averages they have!

Posted by   on (December 19, 2013, 10:27 GMT)

Averages are relative. The the closed environment of county cricket these players play against each other. A slew of high performing batters often points to featherbed pitches. The opposite points to spicy tracks.

It's a closed shop where every batting stats is related to every bowling one. 37 could (could) be hiding the best batsman in the world (unlikely but possible) averages are relative and not absolute.

A Thought Experiment

What if Akram at his best bowled to Tendulkar (at his best) every day on a variety of pitches? Just those 2 players. Day after day. Just those 2.

Could we expect Tendulkar to have flourished with an average over 50? Would we expect Akram to have a bowling average under 22?

If Tendulkar averages 50. Akram must be a poor bowler? If Akram averages under 20 with the ball, then Tendulkar was a rabbit who couldn't bat for toffee?

Of course not. Again. Averages don't tell you half the story. These days many England batters have (or had) higher test than FC

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 19, 2013, 10:05 GMT)

@Howard Coffey, havent you forgotten Morgan who had a run of 2 years to cement his place, then there was Bopara who failed to cement a position during 2009 and failed, tried again and failed again in 2011. Others have included runs for Bairstow, and Compton. Taylor could do with a good run as well.

In regards to spin options Rafiq may be one for the future but I'm always suspicious of Doosra bowlers as they end up looking as though they have a suspect action. I would say Danny Briggs is closer to being selected as a replacement for Swann.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 19, 2013, 9:57 GMT)

@Nutcutlet, I feel the same some days.

Of the players mentioned above I really think only Overton, and Buttler are long term prospects, Robson might be picked to be a number 3, and Mills might come on but needs to play more for Essex.

There are others that seem to be missing DJ Sibley and Alex Lees both 19 year old and having had good first seasons, Briggs, though hes played an ODI is a very good replacement spin option for Swann. Adil Rashid has had a great year with the bat, but bad with the ball, if he can get a tight stock he may well be another spin option.

I'm not convinced about Moeen, had a great season but will need to do well in a lions tour and in the FC next year.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (December 19, 2013, 9:27 GMT)

@2929paul, I agree about Kerrigan, however I believe that the issue is the popular media where rasing a storm about him based on stats that were highly skewed playing on the newly relaid pitch at Lancs, and on the edge of the square, on at least two games they were so bad they inspeected and marked as very poor, such that they were very close to being reported to the ECB and Lancs faced having points docked.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 19, 2013, 8:30 GMT)

Nope! I'm not on form. Submitted comments knocked back - must be because they're rubbish/incomprehensible/ libellous/offensive. Will try harder. But how?

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 19, 2013, 8:10 GMT)

I know nothing about the county game but none of these dudes have outstanding averages. Unless sub 40 batting and 30 plus bowling averages are outstanding in county cricket of course. Surely not.

Posted by   on (December 19, 2013, 6:35 GMT)

We have loads of young talent but will they get picked under Flower-unlikely.Stokes was picked by default as he was the beneficiary of the desire to play Monty in test match two. For all his success Flower has not brought any new players into the England side bar Root.We are now in a pickle as we are seeing a group of 3/4 players nearing the end of their careers whose form no longer justifies a place and we are going to have to blood new players all together.We may have to see a dip in ranking as we rebuild but personally I believe the long term future is bright.Though Azeem Rafiq may have to move counties as Yorkshire prefer Rashid as their main spinner.

Posted by   on (December 19, 2013, 5:15 GMT)

The five I would watch closely are : Gary Ballance, James Taylor, Ben Stokes, Jamie Overton and Johnny Bairstow, because they are suited to all formats and are all young

Posted by neil99 on (December 19, 2013, 1:02 GMT)

If this is the best to come, then we're in for a tough time. None of these batsmen average over 40, and Moeen Ali averages just 37. It's the exception rather than the rule that a batsman will perform better at test level than domestically.

Can we not find good bowlers who can bat, I hate to say it, but like the Aus tail? Why do we continue to pick joke cricketers like Monty Panesar, who can neither bat nor field to an acceptable standard, and now Mills who does not appear to have a decent all round game?

Posted by 2929paul on (December 18, 2013, 22:49 GMT)

Whoever we select, I don't want it to be another Kerrigan situation. I don't believe the selectors really saw him play much cricket. His action looks terrible to me and needs a lot of work to become anything other than a stock County bowler who gets wickets on turning tracks against incompetent batsmen who can't play slow bowling.

The young bowlers (quickies and spinners) must have robust actions that can stand up to five days of intense Test cricket and then carry on through a full season of international cricket. The Aussies have lost four or five young bowlers through injury and it is noticeable that the bowlers doing the damage are battle hardened.

And the batsmen should know their games before being thrown in and then be allowed to play that game, rather than be asked to play another way.

Posted by landl47 on (December 18, 2013, 22:10 GMT)

Other than the players already with the England side, I'd suggest James Vince is an outstanding prospect. Only 22, he made 1100 runs at over 60 with 4 centuries in the county championship last season. He's also a very elegant batsman, who has been compered to Michael Vaughan. Look out for him in the next couple of years.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2013, 20:56 GMT)

While I agree that stability is key - England have not brought on enough class in the last 5 years. Typically you need 16 players to make an effective squad and with the test career for a player who retires on his own volition being just under 9 years, it would seem that;

1) England need to bring on 2 players a year. While Root and Stokes have come through this year - they represent the only two real additions in 4 years (since Trott)

2) Pietersen, Prior, Swann and possibly Trott are players who will likely retire anyway in the next 24 months. The opportunity to take advantage of a dead rubber to blood a couple of younger players while s a couple of these rest seems like a "no brainer" to me.

3) Even outside of the 5 named in this article there are several great young batsmen and bowlers. Some have had a go already (Taylor) but probably deserve another. Others, particularly fast bowlers - who might be tried.

My one concern is the lack of a real quality spinner coming through.

Posted by SDHM on (December 18, 2013, 20:45 GMT)

A good list, if slightly predictable. There's a lot of talent knocking around. In fact, in terms of raw talent, we've seldom had such a good crop. BUT - & it's a bigTo but - whether they can adapt and form a Test side as relatively strong as the current one has been, I'm not sure. A more freewheeling & less disciplined generation, so might play more attractive cricket, but will also likely be more frustrating! One I would most definitely include that seems to not being mentioned anywhere is yet another young Yorkie, Azeem Rafiq. For mine, he looks the most likely to succeed Swann: a promising, attacking off spinner (who can also bowl the doosra I might point out), a handy lower order batsman, an electric fielder & has captained the Yorkshire side in LO cricket brilliantly. In Swann we are looking to replace more than just a class spinner, his batting & slip catching will be missed too. Rafiq is the best place to cover all of that.

Posted by oze13 on (December 18, 2013, 20:28 GMT)

Moeen Ali's averages are very ordinay. He's also 26 so you'd be expecting better stats. He'll need to improve massively in my eyes!

Posted by CodandChips on (December 18, 2013, 18:35 GMT)

For the home series vs SriLanka, I'd like to see some changes. Why not have a warm up of the lions vs the current test side? It worked in T20Is before the victorious WT20 campaign, as it got Lumb and Kieswetter in the side.

The team I'd like to see vs SriLanka: 1.Cook 2.Root 3.Moeen 4.Bell (C) 5.Taylor 6.Stokes/Ballance 7.Davies/Bairstow/Buttler (whoever starts the county season the best- unless of course Prior does well these last 2 ashes tests) 8.Broad 9.Swann 10.Jordan 11.Finn (reserve player Onions)

Posted by CodandChips on (December 18, 2013, 18:21 GMT)

Batsman wise we have quite a few good players. James Taylor has an excellent first class and list A record and is very unlucky to have not played more for England. Ballance I see as a long-term KP replacement in all formats. Moeen should be our test number 3. Other Batsmen who are close imo are James Vince and Sam Robson. Vince could be an option opening in ODIs, as well as middle order in tests soon.

We've a few keepers in Davies, Bairstow, Buttler and Foakes but I don't think any are ready yet for tests.

All rounders, we have Stokes (who I see as a bits and pieces player, but then again so was Flintoff), Woakes (who has progressed nicely as a bat but at the expense of his bowling) and possibly Borthwick.

I worry over our bowling. I like Finn. Jordan looks good, but who else? Mills and Overton twins have pace. Other left armers in Topley, Willey and Wood, maybe, but perhaps these 3 are suited to white ball cricket only.

And I fear over spinners. Other than Kerrigan I see nobody

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (December 18, 2013, 18:15 GMT)

We should be looking at players in the 24-26 age range, rather than only picking 18-20 year olds and 30+ year olds. With few exceptions (Cook, Tendulkar at one end, Sutcliffe, Hussey at the other for instance), the best players get into the team at 24-26. Let players like Mills and Overton bowl every game for thier counties, and only schedule Lions tours for the winter.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2013, 18:09 GMT)

No one on this list averages over 40 with the bat or under 30 with the ball! Surely that has to be a major concern if this is the best new talent in England? If they can't come close to dominating at county level, what chance do they have at Test level?

Posted by NRC1979 on (December 18, 2013, 16:17 GMT)

@mikeyp147: I remember the Tendulkar ball well. I think I will just respond with his overall figures of 6 wkts at 93 in 82 tests to illustrate my point!

Posted by mikeyp147 on (December 18, 2013, 15:48 GMT)

In the Ashes warm-up game last summer, Mills was clocked at 94mph and had the likes of Swann hopping around like the rabbit he seems to have become.

Now we all know pace isn't everything, but when someone can wang it down at 90+mph, that makes them a very precious commodity indeed, particularly in England and particularly at the age of 21. Clearly his lack of wickets is down to control, but it's obvious why he's on the radar.

@NRC1979: I seem to remember Vaughan cleaning up Tendulkar with an absolute beauty a few years ago. I reckon that probably made a difference in that Test.

Posted by Basingrad on (December 18, 2013, 15:43 GMT)

@davidhopps1 - I think the difference is that England can afford to take a punt on someone who is incredibly raw but might have something special, whereas Essex cannot afford someone who could go all round the park if they want to get promoted. I don't personally see what the fuss is about with Mills but England are obviously hoping they can add some control or movement to the pace and good luck to them. If they can't do that, he will be cannon fodder on anything but quick and bouncy tracks...of which there are few in the world and even fewer in the second division of the champo! Overton looks a better prospect given he's nearly as quick and is a few years younger, so you suspect that with Mitch fresh in the mind, Mills is being bigged up for his left-armedness...

Posted by NRC1979 on (December 18, 2013, 15:20 GMT)

The debate about Mills and Taylor suggest that there is more to test selection than figures alone. It is possible for a batsman to score a lot of runs at first class level but not have a technique to adapt to tests (Phil Hughes for example) and vice versa. Maybe the England set up can see such problems in Taylor. The same applies to bowlers. There are many county bowlers with great records who would never get near the test team (Masters, Richardson etc) because you need a certain X factor to get top quality batsmen out. That is why England want to invest with Mills/Overton rather than Willey/Woakes (good county bowlers). I very much doubt Mills is anywhere near the test team at the moment but he certainly could be in the future.

On the issue of Moeen, can we all please forget about part time spin having any real role in test cricket. Vaughan, Pietersen, Hick, Ramprakash, Root all prove that part time off spin can get you some county wickets but not make a difference in tests.

Posted by Paulo_OWC on (December 18, 2013, 15:20 GMT)

@200ondebut - i dont think this is a knee jerk reaction. England haven't been ranked #1 in Test cricket for over 2 years, and our performances have been in gradual decline ever since. The series wins over New Zealand and then the Ashes win this summer, IMHO have papered over the cracks. What I fear is a slump similar to that Australia experienced when their golden team retired after the 06/07 Ashes. I think that now is the time to rebuild, with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series over here.

Posted by 200ondebut on (December 18, 2013, 14:22 GMT)

Typical - lose a couple of matches and the media are already writing off the players that got England to No 1 in the world.

Why is it so hard for them to grasp the simple equation that stability in the side is the main ingredient to long term success. Sure, talk about succession planning but it shows a lack of understanding to do so as a knee jerk reaction to a poor series.

Posted by Wafer on (December 18, 2013, 14:01 GMT)

As big a fan of Buttler as I am, he has plenty of work to do to to rise in the pecking order for an England Test callup, Kieswetter is a better bat in the County Championship and I think most Somerset fans would say he's the better keeper. Kieswetter and potentially other keepers on the circuit should be ahead of Bairstow anyway IMHO.

Jamie Overton does look good and will be interesting to see how he develops and how his twin Craig does following missing most of last season with injury. Both could well have bright England futures if they live up to the potential.

Posted by FTDtheKing on (December 18, 2013, 13:47 GMT)

@Carl2011 - the list is of uncapped test players. That said, I think Taylor is probably the unluckiest batsman in the country in terms of England chances. His face really can't fit, as there's no other player of his age that bangs out the runs he does. I hope at some point in the near future he is given a fair go - something more likely now with Trott's departure I would think.

Posted by MarkTaffin on (December 18, 2013, 13:46 GMT)

Hang on - Moeen Ali is 26, and has played by far the majority of his cricket in Div 2. Compton is only 4 years older AND has 2 Test hundreds....

Buttler? Can't really bat in F-c cricket and his keeping is, erm, a little below standard.

Posted by davidhopps1 on (December 18, 2013, 13:42 GMT) - Staff member

I was going to point out to @Carl2011 that these are uncapped players but I see it has been done. There is not a whole lot of point listing players people already know on a piece like this surely? Or even listing people like Gary Ballance. So not really laughable. From laughable to boring... @Basingrad. Your comments are understandable about Tymal Mills but again we make that very point. In my view, it's not boring, it's intriguing, that Mills takes only 6 Championship wickets for Essex and struggles to get in the side yet England are investing heavily in him, which they are. Maybe somebody is wrong. Or maybe Tymal is about to mature and take a shed load of wickets. Personally, I haven't seen much of Willey but I'd suspect he is more on the one-day radar.

Posted by Shoggz on (December 18, 2013, 13:31 GMT)

Carl2011, George's opening paragraph actually states: " In the meantime, here are five uncapped Test players with the potential to forge an England career in the years ahead"

So, how is James Taylor's omission laughable on that basis?

Posted by Jeppo on (December 18, 2013, 13:30 GMT)

@Carl2011: James Taylor was omitted from this list because he is not an uncapped player.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if Moeen Ali fills the number 3 spot for England in the near future if Trott doesn't come back as he is a very fine batsman these days. Tymal Mills is a strong bowler from what I've seen of him as well, but if he is selected by England next year then they clearly haven't learnt from the treatment they gave to Anderson when they gave him his first cap at a similar age.

So with the exception of Moeen Ali, give these players more county championship time first before throwing them into the big stage.

Posted by Basingrad on (December 18, 2013, 13:23 GMT)

Can I also add - Tymal somehow gets on here when another left-armer, an all-rounder in fact, of the quality of David Willey does not. And batting wise, keep your eye on Rob Newton, also of Northants, and Rory Burns of Surrey for technically sound and temperamentally strong young players.

Bowling wise, Mike "the new Harmi" Reed could be an interesting proposition if he can be more consistent and Toby Roland-Jones is a high class bowler working hard to up his pace.

Posted by   on (December 18, 2013, 13:20 GMT)

so the idea is....get south africans out and new zealanders in !

Posted by Basingrad on (December 18, 2013, 13:15 GMT)

I'm getting very bored of this Tymal Mills talk: not only did he only take a handful of first-class wickets last season (including ending it with three 0-fors), in his last second XI championship game (as populated by top club players and generally wet-behind-the-ears sorts) he took 0/84 while Maurice Chambers took 7/70! That's how far down the pecking order he is/was at Essex.

This is the worst sort of "he's got pace, he's left arm ergo he is going to be a Wasim Akram, Brett Schultz, Mohammad Amir, Trent Boult and Mitchell Johnson rolled into one world-beater" that far too many people are currently guilty of.

Let the kid actually take some wickets (including a maiden 5-for), even at county Div 2, hell even at second XI level, before anyone starts with these ludicrous claims he is a future England player.

Posted by Carl2011 on (December 18, 2013, 12:51 GMT)

Laughable omission of James Taylor.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
ESPNcricinfo staffClose
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days