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The future is bright

Posted on July 4, 2011 by in 40/50-over, Opinion, T20, Tests

As our Australian friends have kindly proven to us over the past year, it doesn’t matter how good a side you are, a failure to properly prepare for the future will leave you in a heap of trouble. 51allout has taken a look at six of the best young stars of the County circuit who could lead England to glory in years to come.

James Taylor (Leicestershire)

FC bat ave: 48.45
List A bat ave: 48.83

At 21 years old, James Taylor is the hottest batting prospect in the English game.  He’s unusually short for a batsman (standing at only 5’5″) but this hasn’t stopped him from establishing himself as one of the standout players of the county game. For a small man he plays the short ball with great power and bravery, and is reminiscent of Ian Bell in the way that he’s capable of playing both elegant orthodox strokes and innovative flair shots. For a young player he appears to have an outstanding temperament, having already made three first class double hundreds and been praised for his maturity by Tim Boon (the ex-Leicestershire coach who is now ECB head of performance development). 2010 saw him named Cricket Writers’ Club Young Player of the Year and the PCA Young Player of the Year, and an impressive England Lions tour of the West Indies in early 2011, in which he scored 527 series runs at an average of 58.55, should ensure that he is firmly on the selectors’ radar. While he may have to wait for his chance to play test cricket, an ODI call up could be imminent, particularly with England’s current batting lineup looking stale and predictable

Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)

FC bat ave: 46.44
List A bat ave: 17.00

Another 21 year old, flame-haired wicket keeper Jonny Bairstow (son of the late former England wicket keeper David Bairstow) has ousted veteran Gerard Brophy to firmly establish himself as Yorkshire’s first choice behind the stumps. He looks certain to pass the 1,000 first class run mark this summer, having fallen just short last year – an impressive feat for someone wearing the gloves. He needs to improve on his glovework to have an impact on the international stage, something that will surely come with practice, but England Lions coach Graham Thorpe has recently gone on record to state his belief that Bairstow will make it as an international cricketer. It seems unlikely that he will get an opportunity in the short term as Matt Prior is arguably the best ‘all-round’ keeper in Test cricket and England look determined to persevere with a pinch-hitting keeper at the top of the ODI order, but a place as reserve keeper on the winter tour beckons for Bairstow.


The future is orange? Stokes & Bairstow are both ginger


Ben Stokes (Durham)

FC bat ave: 46.69
List A bat ave: 31.81
FC bowl ave: 37.35
List A bowl ave: 14.78

A middle order batsman with useful medium pace bowling from Durham, Ben Stokes seems to be the natural replacement for Paul Collingwood. New Zealand born Stokes is a more destructive batsman than the nuggety Collingwood, but his introduction to the ODI team could help provide some of the balance the current side lacks. Although he had been on the radar for about a year, Stokes thrust himself into the public eye with a stunning all-round performance against Hampshire in April 2011, taking 6/68 to decimate the Hampshire batting line-up before blasting a rapid 135* including five sixes off one over from the bowling of Liam Dawson. Stokes followed that up by scoring 150* off 113 balls in a CB40 match against Warwickshire to set a new record for the highest One Day score posted by a Durham player. He had a quiet Lions tour with both bat and ball, but his exertions this season mean that the 20 year old may get an ODI opportunity this summer. Injury thwarted any chance he had of a call-up for the Sri Lankan series, but the sooner England blood him the better as he has the potential to establish himself as a key player leading up to the next World Cup.


James Harris (Glamorgan)

FC bowl ave: 26.68
List A bowl ave: 25.11

21 year old Welshman James Harris burst onto the scene in 2007, becoming the youngest ever player to claim a seven-wicket haul in the County Championship and hasn’t looked back since. He has a better bowling strike rate in all forms of the game than any of England’s premier seamers (Anderson, Tremlett, Broad & Finn) despite being the least experienced of the lot. He doesn’t possess great height, but his danger comes from being able to swing the ball both ways and being metronomically accurate, so even when the ball doesn’t swing he can pose the batsmen problems by hitting that area just outside off stump with relentless precision. No mug with the bat either, he averages a fraction over 20 and has six first class 50s to his name, with a best of 87*. England are well stocked in the bowling department at the moment, but expect Harris to leapfrog a few of the older pacemen in the queue if he continues his impressive progression.


Could we soon be seeing Harris in an England shirt?


Reece Topley (Essex)

FC bowl ave: 22.62
List A bowl ave: 40.00

At just 17 years old and with only eight County Championship matches under his belt, Topley is comfortably the youngest and rawest talent in our list, but given the explosive start to his career it’d be unfair not to include him. At 6’7″ tall already, Topley might aim to one day take Chris Tremlett’s place in the England set-up, and as a left armer Topley could end up being even more of a handful than Tremlett once he reaches his peak. He certainly hasn’t got carried away with his lightening start to the season, having told Essex on more than one occasion that he is unavailable to play because he’s still studying for his A-levels . No English left-arm seamer has ever reached 100 test wickets, will Topley be the first? It’s still very early days but the indications are that he may be in with a shout.


Danny Briggs (Hampshire)

FC bowl ave: 31.10
List A bowl ave: 62.10

With Graeme Swann in a class of his own in terms of English spinners, the door is very much open for someone to make the second spinner spot their own. In recent years Panesar, Rashid, Tredwell, Yardy, Batty and Patel have all been given opportunities with various levels of success, although no one has really taken their chance. Briggs could provide the long-term answer to the problem. He has modelled his bowling on New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori and England will be delighted if he can emulate his success. Briggs will no doubt have impressed the England selectors with a stunning series performance for the Lions in the Caribbean last winter as he ended up with 33 wickets at an average of around 19 from the six matches he played in, comfortably outbowling rival spinner Adil Rashid. Briggs also has an exceptional T20 record in domestic cricket, taking 48 wickets at 16.62 with an economy rate of 6.52 and was a crucial part of Hampshire’s victorious T20 campaign of 2010 as he took a record 31 wickets in the competition. Although he hasn’t yet managed to replicate these performances in the longer one day game he’ll surely be a name in the selectors’ minds.


Post a Comment


Matt H

06 Feb 2016 09:37

Come on Harris and Briggs, get your shit together.


Roger West

05 May 2015 13:13

Stick with Finn. Can’t go wrong there.



05 Jul 2011 17:11

I’ve always liked the look of Harris, a very fine bowler.