England news December 18, 2013

Five England players to watch

George Dobell and David Hopps
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

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.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Robert 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.

  • Jason 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.

  • Jason 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.

  • Bryn 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

  • Nicholas 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

  • 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.

  • shahid 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.

  • Rue 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

  • Jason 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.

  • Jason 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.

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