March 13, 1989, Cambridge
Right hand Bat
Right arm Offbreak
Top order Batter
A graceful batter with, at his best, an enchanting leg-side game, Tom Westley broke into the England Test side more than a decade after his Essex debut. His technique, with an on drive to the fore, drew comparisons with John Crawley and a half-century on debut against South Africa at the Oval encouraged optimism that, at 28, his long apprenticeship on the county circuit would finally bear fruit. His experience against West Indies, though, proved less rewarding and a run of five single-figure scores in his last six innings led him to be omitted from England's Ashes tour party.
Westley had served notice of his talent in 2015, a century against the Australian tourists at Chelmsford ahead of the Ashes series enough to prompt a congratulatory text from Alastair Cook. Three more hundreds followed in Essex's promotion the following summer, as this modest and articulate Durham graduate passed 1000 runs for the first time. He received a few honourable mentions in despatches, but it took performances in Division One - as well as hundred against South Africa for the Lions - to properly catch the attention of the England selectors. As Essex's status grew in their title-winning year, so too a Test debut followed for Westley.
The day that he was excluded from the Ashes party happened to be the day that Essex were presented with the Championship trophy. It felt like a neat symbol of where his immediate future lay and that proved to be the case; Westley continued to be a key cog at Chelmsford, playing a full part in Essex's 2019 Championship and T20 double. He took over the captaincy the following summer, and duly led Essex to another piece of silverware in a pandemic-wrecked season as they lifted the Bob Willis Trophy.
Westley, first spotted by Keith Fletcher, the Essex guru, initially emerged as a middle-order batsman after joining the Essex Academy as a 14-year-old in 2003. He made his first-team debut in a one-day match against the touring Sri Lankans in June 2006, travelling to Perth for three weeks on a Graham Gooch Scholarship that December and following that up with a trip to Mumbai as part of a five-strong Academy contingent in February 2007. He impressed enough there and in the indoor nets upon his return to be asked to join up with the first team on their pre-season tour to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
It was expected that Westley's first-team chances would increase with the retirements of Andy Flower and Ronnie Irani, and Cook and Ravi Bopara's increasing England commitments, but he hadn't really established himself before England Under-19s came calling, first for Pakistan U19s' visit in August 2007 and then for a tour of Sri Lanka and the U19 World Cup that followed in February 2008. Westley was named captain of the Under-19 side for New Zealand's tour that summer, and from 2009 juggled sporadic Essex appearances with his studies at Durham University. A natural leader, he was also put in charge of the Durham MCCU side but returned to Essex to play a part in the County Championship promotion push by hitting a maiden first-class century in a crucial match at Derby in 2009.
His progress thereafter was steady rather than spectacular and it wasn't until 2012 that, for the first time, he played in every Championship game. His move up the order to open with Jaik Mickleburgh provided Essex with some solidity, after several combinations were tried, and included hitting his highest first-class score of 185 against Glamorgan. A broken finger sustained in the Ashes warm-up match against England curtailed his 2013 but the following season saw an extra dimension added to his limited-overs game.
He was first back on the national selectors' radar in late 2014, when, aged 25, he joined the England Performance Programme's batting and spin camp in Sri Lanka, staying on afterwards with the club side Bloomfield. That followed a breakthrough year in white-ball cricket, in which he averaged 57.33 in the Royal London Cup and 44.83 in T20, with three centuries across the formats.
Batting & Fielding