Friday, 9 May 2008

Rose Bowl Rocks to Wright!

I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse of the England Lions in action yesterday afternoon against New Zealand at The Rose Bowl. When I turned up England were in trouble at 132-5, but the 34 runs put on since the last wicket represented what was a good partnership so far in the match. Luke Wright was batting with Adil Rashid and I doubt that it will be the last time that these two bat together in England colours. Both are exceedingly promising allrounders, Rashid perhaps more with his leg spin bowling and Wright perhaps more with his explosive batting.

Adil Rashid shows solid defence

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).

Luke Wright brings up his 100 with a maximum

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!


Richard Lake said...

And how Sussex could have done with him last night as well! He's certainly climbing through the ranks of the understudies and is now probably only behind Shah and Bopara. He's also a certainty for the shorter form of the game throughout the summer and has shown even in his short career to date that he has the temperament for international cricket.

A decent season in the CC (I don't believe he played much 4 day stuff last year) and he'll be in the mix for the winter, particularly if his bowling continues to improve.

As for a "weakened" NZ attack, there was only the injured Vettori out from the team I'd expect to play in the first test, or have I forgotten someone?

Chrispy said...

Yes I hope he plays all the limited overs stuff. He isn't tall enough to be a bowler of fred's (as in fast and bouncy) calibre but he can certainly develop into someone who can do a job.

Yes like I said, "the bowling of Oram, Martin, Southee and Patel can not be dismissed as average", having said that they are a much weaker line up than when they could call on the likes of Shane Bond, James Franklin, Kyle Mills and Vettori. If all were still available to NZ I think that aside from possibly Martin and the allrounder Oram, no-one else who played yesterday would get in. They will also miss Styris I think as an extra option. Oram was the most impressive bowler for me (but like Fred where have the runs gone?!). O'Brien was from what I saw yesterday pretty ordinary, though Southee has a lot of promise, but still bowls too many four bowls, a bit like most of our young bowlers.

Tim said...

Really interesting piece, would have loved to have seen that knock! Wright's really impressed me of late but this was only his 3rd fc century. A Test debut is probably some way away, but I have hopes he could be the clean-striker England have so lacked at the death in ODIs.