Hampshire coach praises Lumb selection
Michael Lumb probably couldn't have picked a better moment to make an impression. Playing for England Lions against the full side in Dubai he hit the final two balls of the match for four to secure victory with an unbeaten 58. Andy Flower clearly liked what he saw; six weeks later and Lumb has been selected for the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean.
Until Lumb was included for the Lions tour he hadn't been involved with the England set-up during the winter having not been handed an Academy place. However, the selectors remembered his outstanding 2009 Twenty20 Cup record where he scored 442 runs at 44.20 including an unbeaten 124. Shane Warne, who Lumb credits with much of his development, didn't forget either and helped him secured an IPL deal with Rajasthan Royals.
At the age of 30, he can fall into the category of late developer but Giles White, the Hampshire cricket manager, believes it's that time in the domestic game that has allowed him to develop his skills.
"His confidence has soared in the last few years, partly through experience and also becoming more senior within the team and getting more responsibility," White told Cricinfo. "He understands his role at the top of the order and has a gift that others don't, in that he hits the ball so hard and cleanly.
"It's a talent that comes naturally to him, he's a natural striker of a cricket ball. Twenty20 suits his style of play; he can hit the bad ball but also find the gaps. He has worked very hard in one-day cricket over the last couple of the years and this call-up is reward for that effort. I think the selectors have got it right with this decision."
Lumb isn't actually the first to have benefited from that warm-up game in Abu Dhabi. Craig Kieswetter, Lumb's opening partner, hit 81 and was immediately promoted to the full squad for Bangladesh where he responded with two hundreds - 143 in the practice match and 107 in the final one-dayer at Chittagong.
Now there is a chance the pair will join forces again for England's opening World Twenty20 match against West Indies, at Providence, on May 3 - although Ravi Bopara could also open - and, either way, it will be the team's 16th opening combination in 26 Twenty20 internationals. White, who has allowed Lumb to develop his game at the top of the order, knows it is vital that players are given a chance to settle into a role.
"It's very important guys are given a run, continuity is the key in any form of the game," he said. "It's hard at times with form and injury, but if a person is allowed to settle into a role they are generally more successful. The most successful sides in history have shown that and it gives the player confidence to know he'll be there for a while."
It has been a pleasing winter for White, who has seen two of his chargers progress into the England set-up with Michael Carberry having earned his Test debut in Bangladesh. "My role as a coach is a dual one to produce England cricketers and to win trophies with Hampshire," he said. "As a club we are very proud when we have players at the highest level. It's credit to the support staff we have, but it's also down to the efforts that the players themselves put in."
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo