Wright looked every bit a class player as he demonstrated maturity in building a partnership with Rashid. Rashid was more circumspect and watchful, but looked a solid and compact player, who combined solid defence with an ability to work the ball around and manoeuvre the field, a good sign for the future of the ODI side maybe. Wright soon reached his fifty, having punished both Iain O’Brien and Jeetan Patel for erring at times in line and length. He hit three fours off of one particular O’Brien over, the first a blistering cover drive, the second a hefty pull and the third a sublime square cut.
Luke Wright square cuts for four more off of Iain O'Brien
Jacob Oram was brought on for the tourists and immediately looked dangerous. Indeed it was not long before he had Rashid caught well in the covers by Patel, before Graeme Swann was out, in rather silly fashion, playing a rash shot and adjudged lbw. Meanwhile, as partners came and went, next to fall was Tremlett, Wright went about steadily increasing his own scoring rate. His concentration was excellent and he seemed hell bent on getting that all important century. Matthew Hoggard provided an able foil for the Sussex man, getting a few boundaries down to third man and even clipping the spin of Patel to leg a couple of times. Perhaps Hoggy has his eye on the allrounder role, it wouldn’t be a surprise given his determination to get back into that England side (the same can hardly be said of Steve Harmison from recent interviews). So with able support, Wright was able to complete a fantastic century at a strike rate of around 84. Here he is reaching the landmark with a six (he was on 95).
That says a lot for the player in my opinion, to have the guts to go for it when he could have just taken singles. He is obviously a confident player who trusts his own ability, which is a key mental attribute at international level.
Wright celebrates with Matthew Hoggard
Once Hoggard was clean bowled by young Tim Southee, Wright was forced to up the anti. He hit a few more boundaries, including a glorious straight six off of Chris Martin, but the England innings was over when, like Rashid, he was well caught in the covers, smashing another cover drive, this time in the air to Oram. Wright had scored 120 of England’s 280 runs, very impressive, and he had effectively rescued them from embarrassment against a much changed and depleted New Zealand side.
Jacob Oram was impressive with the ball
So what of the future for Luke Wright. Well, after this showing one can only be impressed. His excellent cameos for England in Twenty20 and ODI cricket appear to be only the cusp of a wave which is set to roll in over the international scene. Granted this was only against a depleted New Zealand side, but the bowling of Oram, Martin, Southee and Patel can not be dismissed as average and the fact that the next highest scorer in the England innings was Michael Carberry, with a painstakingly ground out 42, shows that ball was dominating bat until Wright came to the crease. His batting is undoubtedly his stronger suit, although his bowling has shown signs of improvement this season and who can forget that over which he bowled during the winter to win the game at the death for England? He clearly is a mentally strong cricketer, who is capable of adapting to different situations. He must be utilised lower down the order, rather than as a pinch hitter, as he has now proven that he operates best around number six or seven. Andrew Flintoff, most definitely now a bowling allrounder, could be well complemented in the future by Wright, a batting allrounder.
Luke Wright, 120
Watch out for Luke Wright this summer, he is coming and he is coming hard and fast!