In through the back door
With so much cricket played these days it is often difficult to keep track of who is who and what they are doing. In this weekly feature Cricinfo will take a look at one player who is making the news, whether at the highest level or as an aspiring talent, and tell you what they are all about. This week, it's the turn of Jamie Dalrymple, the Middlesex batsman and offspinner who has made a positive impression early in his international career.
His tidy offspin in the first two matches against Sri Lanka plus a cultured 67 at Lord's won't have surprised his followers at Middlesex. And considering his team-mates' limp performances so far this series, his efforts have been all the more impressive.
Like his stand-in England captain, and Middlesex team-mate Andrew Strauss, Dalrymple's selection was a touch surprising to say the least. Not the heaviest run-scorer in domestic cricket, he has sneaked in through the back door which Duncan Fletcher keeps ajar to those players who have "got something" about them. Quite what the "something" is can range from character and bottle, to an impressive technique which nevertheless needs refining. In fact, that's Dalyrmple personified; he is a tough, resilient character and his batting, while not the most elegant, has a solidity to it which has already reaped benefits in his very short one-day career.
Unlike many in the current England team, he doesn't possess the fluidity of Michael Vaughan; the raw power of Andrew Flintoff or the madness-of-talent that is Kevin Pietersen. But in fact he knows his own game exceedingly well, bats within himself, and plays to the match situation - an admirable trait indeed, and one which could well see him earn a place in the World Cup squad.
Again like Strauss, he was educated at Radley College and has a 2:1 in history from Oxford who he captained at university. However, his first season in 2001 was a mixed bag of success in which he averaged a mere 22.55 with the bat. Although he promised much in 2002, it was in the following season where his talent shone for the first time when he cracked an elegant 236 for Oxford in the varsity match. His penchant for big hundreds continued a year later when he utterly dominated Surrey in reaching a career-best 244.
Steady is the best word to describe him. With just five first-class hundreds, he has hardly set the county game alight. But then he isn't the first batsman since Fletcher took over the reigns to be introduced to England with a first-class batting average wobbling in the mid-30s. And look how well Strauss, Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick have performed since.
Plays for England Under-19 against Sri Lanka
Championship debut against Warwickshire at Lord's
Hits 236 not out in the Varsity match at Fenners and also grabs five wickets
Overtakes his Varsity innings with 244 off 306 balls against Surrey
Tours West Indies with England A and hits 62 during the third one-day match in Barbados
Selected for England's one-day squad and makes international debut against Ireland
When Dalrymple was selected he averaged 35 with bat and ball in the Championship - nothing to write home about but enough for Fletcher to take a look at him.
What he says - after his 67 against Sri Lanka at Lord's
"It's again in cliche-ville but I went out and tried to play the situation of the game, the numbers on the board rather than 'this is X, Y or Z bowling'. The way I looked at it was we had to try to consolidate, so I tried to get my head down and do that."
What they say - John Emburey, Middlesex coach
"We see him as a genuine allrounder. He bats at No. 5 for Middlesex where he scores consistently and is our key spin bowler. He certainly has the potential to become a matchwinning spinner as he isn't afraid to give the ball a rip. Without doubt he can develop into a Test cricketer, especially with the type of attack England now have with quality pace bowlers. The role that Ashley Giles plays is still open - keeping the game tight while the quick bowlers rest - and I believe Jamie has the talent for that position."
What you may not know
He is the latest in the long line of England cricketers to be born outside the country and continues the strong African connection. After the likes of Graeme Hick (Zimbabwe) and Kevin Pietersen (South Africa), Dalrymple has added Kenya to the list. He emigrated with his parents and went to Radley College, the same public school that has produced his two current captains - Andrew Strauss for England and Ben Hutton for Middlesex.
Will Luke is editorial assistant of Cricinfo