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August 21, 2014
The phrase "I'm in the form of my life" has been heard from a few English cricketers in recent weeks. Alex Hales, the new cap in England's one-day squad, is rightly savouring his golden run but someone with an equal claim to the statement is Sussex allrounder Luke Wright.
On Wednesday, Wright hammered 127 against Glamorgan in the Royal London Cup - albeit in a losing cause - which made it four centuries in a month as he became the first Sussex batsman to hit hundreds in all three formats in the same season, following two tons in the NatWest Blast and one in the recent Championship match against Yorkshire.
Yet, Wright's stellar run of form has coincided with a stage of his career where it can be fairly asked whether he will earn another chance at the top level. His international career has struggled to take hold and often been without a defined role. His debut came back in 2007 where he scored 50 against India at The Oval, but since when he has made only one further ODI half-century along with four in 51 T20Is; his numbers in an England shirt do not making a compelling case. The latest hiatus came after the World T20 in Bangladesh when his tournament was ended early by injury, following a poor tour of the West Indies.
England's new coaching structure was put in place after the World T20 and Wright has not yet featured under Peter Moores, who gave him his first chance in his initial spell as England coach. Wright was also overlooked for the recent Lions squad which played a triangular series. But rather than spend hours feeling sorry for himself, Wright has learned to have a new outlook on his career and he believes not obsessing about England honours has been a key to his productive season.
"One thing I've changed - and I'm only 29, so hopefully I've got plenty of years left - is that I've got to that stage in my career where I've chased England squads since I started cricket, but you get to a point where you realise all you can do is score runs and if you don't get picked you don't get picked," he told ESPNcricinfo. "There's no point worrying or stressing about it because it doesn't do you any good. My results certainly feel good enough to give me a chance of being involved but that's out of my hands with other players performing brilliantly as well.
"I started afresh this season. It had been disappointing in West Indies and then I got injured in Bangladesh. I had a break and we had our second child in New Zealand so it was completely different for a few months which probably worked well for me. Then being back with Sussex I probably knew I wouldn't be involved with England, certainly at the start of the season, after not performing well so I knew I just had to knuckle down. I'm at the point now where I feel like I'm in the best form of my life. I hope I get another chance."
Of the numerous eye-catching innings he has played recently, one that perhaps stands out the most is the English T20 record 66-ball 153 he rattled off against Essex in the final round of the NatWest Blast group matches. It was an innings played on the back of unconventional circumstances with Wright, at one stage, unsure if he would make the match.
"In terms of the day it was a bit of a nightmare," he explained. "We were stuck in traffic, they had to push the game back and we didn't get a warm-up. By the time we rocked up it was a case of get your boots on and get out there. Then we went for 220-odd so by the time I got around to batting everyone was a bit tired, frustrated and hungry - we hadn't had any food - but you know you only have one way to play chasing a total like that so you've got the freedom. Everything I seemed to hit went for four or six. In the end we did it with two overs to spare so I'd have liked to have seen where I have got to."
Although Wright does not want to live with the tag of T20 specialist for the rest of his career it is undoubtedly the format that is offering him most of his opportunities these days. In the winter he will return to New Zealand for a spell with Auckland before linking back up with the Melbourne Stars for the Big Bash League. While those overseas spells would happen come what may, with the World Cup being in Australia and New Zealand Wright is, literally, putting himself in the right place at the right time.
"Obviously the World Cup is there anyway so if I'm not in the squad then I'll still be in the shop window should there any injuries," he said. "But at the moment I'm just making sure I enjoy my cricket."
It is a philosophy that is serving him well. The rest is down to the selectors.
Luke Wright was speaking at the NatWest U-15 Club Championships Finals. NatWest are committed to sponsoring T20 cricket from grassroots to the top of the professional game. To find out more go to natwest.com/cricket
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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