Many moons ago Luke Wright was a running joke in the England side. Much-maligned and mocked by all, he was unceremoniously ditched after the 2011 World Cup and English cricket could finally move on.
18 months later, he was back. Charged from a year in which he took to the country-hopping overseas star role like a spinning all rounder to the breakfast buffet, he delivered shock therapy to the international game and has become an integral part of England’s T20 side. It has got to the point where a man who, just two years ago, was one of the most disparaged cricketers in the country deserves another chance in a format not so reliant on luck.
The Test side may be a little way off yet (though we aren’t ruling it out) but given his all round credentials he could give the England ODI squad an added dimension. The England side likes its six batsmen, five bowlers make-up, particularly at home, but Wright could be worth trying out if they want to deviate from that plan. He offers a two-pronged bowling option; if opposition batters manage to maintain their composure when faced with ‘the waddle’ they still have to deal with some actual good deliveries at a decent pace, while his batting is such that he could be used as a ‘floater’ (stop giggling at the back) depending on the match situation. England generally are extremely reluctant to do anything as off the wall as that, but with a strong, if slightly dour, top order backed by the likes of Wright and Jos Buttler lower down, they would give themselves a very flexible side.
It would be something of a gamble, yet it’s worth trying out. There’s more to be gained from seeing if an in-form phenomenon can cut it at the next level than from trekking youngsters half way around the world to carry drinks. It must be better for the careers of Stuart Meaker and Danny Briggs to go on a Lions tour where they might get some game time than lounging about in the senior dressing room baking doughnuts to help refuel Samit Patel. With James Tredwell England have shown they’re willing to give more experienced players a chance ahead of the next generation if it’s warranted, so why not do so here? What is there to lose?
Even if he can’t force his way into the selectors’ thinking for proper cricket, he’s one of the first names on England’s T20 team sheet looking towards the World T20 next year (yes, again. Really). Since coming back into the side he averages almost 30 with a strike rate above 150. He averages 16 with the ball and rarely gets smashed. It may well be the case that he is the greatest T20 all rounder in the world right now. And he’s also meant to be the nicest man in cricket. And he plays for Pune.
To think he used to be unpopular.