As mentioned earlier, three English squads were announced today – including the National Academy squad. It is worth mentioning that a couple of years ago, Andrew Flintoff decided he needed sorting out and went, of his own accord, to the academy. Look what has happened since.
I’m a huge supporter of this academy, so I always take great interest in the names chosen.
National Academy Squad Gareth Batty, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Rikki Clarke, Alastair Cook, James Dalrymple, Steven Davies, Mark Footitt, Ed Joyce, Robert Key, Sajid Mahmood, Liam Plunkett, Chris Read, Owais Shah, Tom Smith, Luke Wright, Mike Yardy
There are some useful names there, some familiar, some not so. Alastair Cook was this year voted the Young Cricketer of the Year, and smashed 200 against Australia. Nasser Hussain and Gooch rate him hugely, and by all accounts he is a fine prospect.
Ed Joyce I have written about extensively; he is an even finer prospect, and I hope he really kicks on. He’s a joy to watch, as is Owais Shah. I have my reservations about Shah, though…he has enough talent, and has apparently “settled down” and matured (not that I’m condoning such scandalous happenings). He could well be a bit of a Mark Ramprakash; obscenely gifted, but can’t quite cut it. I’d suggest next summer could be his last chance to make an impression.
I’m also pleased about the third Middlesex player, Jamie Dalrymple! Really useful cricketer; bats, bowls useful offspin, fields well. Really professional cricketer. Could be a dark-horse next year, much as Strauss was. One of those names you never expect to perform for their country, but do.
Exciting seeing and watching these young players. Only a few of them will make it to the England side, so keep your eyes peeled on these names. Any of you seen them play?
Thankfully, they’re ALL UNDER 36!