The Lowdown - Michael Yardy September 14, 2006

Ready for take off

The Lowdown on Michael Yardy, who has made an instant impact on England's one-day team

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 Michael Yardy, the Sussex allrounder who has made an instant impact in England's one-day team.

Michael Yardy's bowling provided a real boost for England as he twice removed Mohammad Yousuf © Getty Images
England's bowlers toiled to dismiss Mohammad Yousuf this summer so when a newcomer removes him twice to begin his career, he can be pretty satisfied with the start. Not too long ago, Michael Yardy was working in a sports store at Gatwick Airport during the winter; in a few weeks time he'll be jetting out to India with England's Champions Trophy squad.

Yardy is England's latest attempt to find themselves a one-day allrounder and on first impressions they may finally have struck upon a success story. Three matches into his one-day career he's bagged important wickets, held a blinding catch, and guided his team to a series-levelling victory.

England probably wished his full ODI debut had come one game earlier, at the Rose Bowl, after they'd mis-read the pitch and played an extra seamer when spin could have been a match-winner. But they learnt from the error of their ways and drafted him in for the fourth match at Trent Bridge, a game England had to win in order to have the chance to take anything from their one-day season.

He performed his role to perfection, firstly tying down Yousuf and then dismissing him, snaring Shoaib Malik first ball and removing Kamran Akmal. All this while ripping the ball past the outside edge and conceding just 24 runs. In the final match, at Edgbaston, he again bowled with discipline, but this time it was his coolness in a crisis with the bat that impressed as he helped to guide England across the line after they'd lost four wickets for 16.

The great part about the Yardy story is that he's a cricketer who has fought hard to reach the highest level without possessing the supreme natural gifts of a Pietersen or Flintoff. He even adapted his game to ensure the opportunity of a cricket career didn't slip past. Primarily a batsman (and that's still his major suit), in a previous life he bowled left-arm seam, but struggled to find a regular berth so gave the slow stuff a go.

In his batting he has developed the skill of finishing an innings, as he showed at Trent Bridge, or rebuilding after a slump as he did in the C&G final. He could be England's answer to Darren Lehmann, with his round-arm action and quirky batting stance which has him standing almost chest-on to the bowling (think of a less dramatic Shivnarine Chanderpaul). With a place secured in the Champions Trophy squad and a berth at the Academy in Perth it's set to be a busy winter. He's come a long way from his days at the airport.

Yardy has developed the skills of a fine finisher, something he used to impressive effect at Edgbaston © Getty Images

May 2005
Makes a career-best 257 not out against the touring Bangladeshis and then takes a career-best 5 for 83 in the same match

September 2005
Completes his first full season with 1520 runs in first-class cricket

March 2006
Tours West Indies with England A but struggles as an opener

August 2006
Helps Sussex win the C&G final against Lancashire with a joint top score of 37

August 2006
Makes his England debut in the Twenty20 at Bristol

September 2006
Makes full one-day international debut at Trent Bridge and subsequently named in the Champions Trophy squad and Academy squad to be based in Perth

What he said - after being selected in the one-day squad
"It's been a brilliant week for me and long may it continue. I went through a lot of emotions in the West Indies. Obviously the stats were pretty poor. But I knew that if I scored a decent amount of runs and improved my one-day cricket I might get in the England frame for the start of next summer.

What they said - Mark Robinson, the Sussex cricket manager
"In Michael's case it is an excellent example of the rewards that can be gained from pure hard work and dedication. Michael played first team cricket, was left out went into the second team and decided he was going to move his game to a different level. This selection is testament to that determination and a fantastic example to all young players. Michael has a brilliant ability to use setbacks as a positive learning experience and use the energy to come back even stronger."

What you may not know
England's one-day squad was due to meet up on the Saturday evening of the C&G final, but Yardy was given permission to celebrate Sussex's victory over Lancashire before joining up with his new team-mates the following morning.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo