England news August 21, 2014

Wright stops worrying about England


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 ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on August 22, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 21, 2014, 22:34 GMT) There was a point when Wright batted at 7 and there was at least one game where he did not bat and bowled no overs

  • Jason on August 22, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    @RoBoBobster, the problem is that when he has been give games in the Shorter formats he hasn't produced , in ODI's he has a batting average of 20 and bowling average of 58,with an economy of over 5, in T20's his economy is even worse.

    He seems to be one of those players that can do it at County level, but when it comes to international he freezes, sadly there are better choices for a batsman who bowls and as much as im loathed to admit it Bopara is one of them.

  • David on August 22, 2014, 0:25 GMT

    I've always liked Luke Wright - he's an enthusiastic and whole-hearted cricketer, and I've enjoyed watching some of his madcap attacking innings for Sussex and occasionally England. But perhaps he is ultimately a county specialist. I feel he has the kind of technique which does well against all but the very best bowling - the problem being that at international level you are much more often up against that very best bowling.

  • Nicholas on August 21, 2014, 22:34 GMT

    Would I be right in thinking he's been messed around the order too much in international cricket as well? Haven't bothered to look up his history/stats, but seem to recall him sometimes opening the batting and other times shoved down the order with no real logic behind it all. Little wonder he's been unable to settle in an international shirt. That said, I don't want England to continue to be so stubborn/rigid with their batting orders, and have often wanted the likes of Buttler to come in earlier if/when the openers set a decent platform. Hard to get it right...

  • John on August 21, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    I like Wright but feel it'll be a hard ask to get back in the SFs sides

  • Robin on August 21, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    A problem he has I think is people think of him too much as an allrounder. In the past his batting has been brought down by his bowling so his overall averages don't look great. Since practically giving up bowling (e.g past 2 years) his figures all round are much improved. (didn't play enough ODI/T20I to compare seriously so this is on Domestic, and the improvement is primarily in First Class, showing the improved temperament to go with undoubted skill

  • Nicholas on August 21, 2014, 17:09 GMT

    "...his numbers in an England shirt do not making a compelling case." This is the big problem/risk with Wright. A batting average of 20, with only two 50's from 50 ODI matches, and a bowling average of 59 with economy of over 5 per over do not scream out 'pick me, pick me!' regardless of form in County circuit. Perhaps he does deserve another shot in the upcoming short formats against India, but for the World Cup I'm not so sure.

    If England had wanted him for tests, they should have had him straight in after Flintoff hung up his boots. Don't know/understand what happened there, but gut feeling is that England don't see him fitting into test whites.

  • Paulo on August 21, 2014, 16:44 GMT

    While Wright has clearly improved domestically, his international career has been consistently poor for a long time. His recent England performances since that 99 vs Afghanistan have been poor in both formats. I reckon England will look elsewhere from now on. Look how Bopara was dropped, despite improving for England and having a brilliant Blast. I think Vince and Roy will be ahead of him in T20Is.

  • Robin on August 21, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    GET HIM IN! I've been saying so for ages. short form first perhaps, but definitely for tests. I would argue long formats is his best. Not only is there the mountain of runs, but also when he gets them - invariably when they are really needed Incidentally I think the one think he could really do with would be a reverse sweep/dilshan/scoop/switch hit of some kind - wouldn't necessarily need to use it often, perhaps just enough to force a man back on the boundary in that region, meaning he got full value for other shots and is less likely to be caught in the deep

  • Martin on August 21, 2014, 16:11 GMT

    Wright has become a thoroughly good cricketer across all formats, and is a far better player now than when he made most of his England appearances. Anyone who follows the county championship will know that his reputation as a short-form biffer doesn't do him justice. He's got 14 first-class hundreds, and his first-class batting average, playing in Div 1, was 56 last year and 65 this season.

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