Here, we take a look at the young English players aged 21 and below who could be soon knocking on the doors of the senior team.
Ollie Pope burst on to the scene as a wicketkeeper-batsman, but it is his batting which is winning him many admirers in the English county circuit. The right-handed batsman had had a phenomenal breakout year with Surrey in 2017, when he impressed across all three formats. While his exploits as a T20 batsman won him many plaudits, he showed that he has the gumption for five-day cricket too with a superb ton against Hampshire in only his third county championship match. He is one of, if not the brightest young talent England have on hand at the moment.
Haseeb Hameed is an enigma. The opening batsman was earmarked for greatness when he shone on his Test debut in tough conditions in India as a 19-year-old in November, 2016. His two innings of 31 and 82 on a pitch where spinners were causing mayhem was brilliance at its best. However, the Lancashire batsman has fallen way off the radar since then and has gone on to play only two more Tests. A poor run in county cricket means Hameed is no longer on the selectors’ radar but the youngster still has time on his hand to force his way back into the reckoning. A crucial year lies ahead of the right-hander.
Harry Brook looked head and shoulders above the rest of the English batsmen during the U19 World Cup held in New Zealand at the start of the year. The 19-year-old England U19 skipper is a technically-correct batsman with all the shots in his book. He proved his mettle for the Yorkshire Second XI in the 2017 season and has now been making appearances for the main team too. He registered a classy fifty in Yorkshire’s recent clash with a Lancashire side which included the likes of James Anderson.
A former England U19 skipper, Max Holden is another young English batsman who enjoyed a terrific 2017 in county cricket. The left-handed batsman scored a total of 629 runs in the county championship for Northamptonshire last year at an average of nearly 40. That impressive loan spell has seen the youngster recalled to Middlesex where he has now signed a long-term contract. A busy batsman who likes to graft for his runs, Holden seems tailor-made for Test cricket at the moment.
An all-rounder by ilk, Aaron Thomason is another of the young Englishmen worth keeping an eye on at the moment. The right-hander has come up through the ranks at Warwickshire and has also represented England at the U19 level. A technically sound batsman, Thomason is an adept medium-pace bowler. His showings with both bat and ball for Warwickshire’s second XI in 2017 were impressive and he could be stepping up to the main side fairly soon.
Another exciting English prospect coming up through the ranks at Warwickshire is Liam Banks. A batsman who is equally comfortable at opening the innings or in the middle-order, Banks can also bowl some handy part-time off spin. He was a part of England’s U19 squad in the World Cup this year and has already made his county championship debut with Warwickshire last year. This will be a big year for his development after some fine displays for the Warwickshire second XI last year.
Saqib Mahmood is one of the most promising young English pacers coming through at the moment. The Lancashire pacer was named as the England Development Programme cricketer of the year in 2015 and went on to represent the England U19 side as just a 17-year-old. The 19 wickets he has taken so far in six first-class matches saw Mahmood being called up the England Lions squad during their shadow tour of the Ashes last year. With that trajectory, it won’t be a surprise to see the pacer knock on the doors of the senior team soon.
How highly rated young Josh Tongue is can be gauged from the fact that he already has 20 first-class matches under his belt. The Worcestershire pacer had an outstanding first season in the county championship last year where he bagged a total of 47 wickets. He too, like Mahmood, was part of the England Lions squad which toured Australia last year. He is now an established member of the Worcestershire squad which is no mean feat for a 20-year-old youngster.
George Garton might not have racked up impressive numbers just as yet, but that does not mean the pacer isn’t on the radar of the England selectors. The left-arm quick can bowl with impressive pace and has been a steady performer for Sussex’s second XI over the course of the last year. How high up he is in the pecking order was evident when Garton was called up as cover for the injury-ravaged England squad during their last Ashes tour.
At 21 years of age, Dom Bess has already played two Tests for England. Although that might have more to do with England’s lack of quality spinners at the moment, Bess more than looked the part in his appearances. The off-spinner announced himself to the cricket world with figures of 6-21 against Warwickshire on his county championship debut for Somerset in 2016. He formed a successful partnership with Jack Leach in 2017 for Somerset and is no mug with the bat either as his century for the second XI last year showed.
Hamidullah Qadri made headlines in 2017 when, as a 16-year-old, he became the youngest player to play first-class cricket for Derbyshire. He picked up a five-wicket haul with his off-spin in the second innings of his debut to lead Derbyshire to a win over Glamorgan. Born in Afghanistan, Qadri is one of the most talented young spinners coming though the county circuit along with Dom Bess. Expect him to have a big year with Derbyshire across all formats.
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