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Another action-packed domestic cricket season gets under way on Friday April 8 with 18 hopeful counties vying for silverware.
While team success is one aim, personal glory comes hand-in-hand, and with Sri Lanka and India touring England this summer, there are at least two reasons for the international 'wannabes' to stand up and make themselves heard when play resumes.
Skysports.com looks at 10 emerging talents who could be in the frame for an international debut this summer.
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Paul Collingwood's Test retirement has left the number six batting spot vacant and among the frontrunners for that role is Somerset right-hander Hildreth. The 26-year-old racked up 1,440 runs in Division One of the LV County Championship last season, finishing with an average of 65.45 in 23 innings. His great strength is his ability to convert big scores into huge ones, evidenced by his seven centuries last summer and a highest first-class score of 303 not out. A strong leg-side player with an incredible eye, Hildreth will be hard to ignore should he start the 2011 season in a similar vein to the way he ended the last campaign.
The future could be now for Yorkshire captain Gale, although he will need to improve on last season's first-class run tally if he is to catch the selectors' eye. That said, he would have almost certainly broken the 1,000 run barrier had he not missed three fixtures through England Lions captaincy commitments. It is in one-day cricket where he is perhaps more likely to stake a claim for a full international call-up. He formed a formidable opening partnership with Jacques Rudolph in the Clydesdale Bank40, scoring over 450 runs at a strike-rate of 93.27. A lack of urgency at the top of the England order has been blamed for England's failings at the recent World Cup and with Andrew Strauss' days as one-day captain rumoured to be ending in the near future, Gale could be a natural successor.
Playing in Division Two is always a stumbling block for players with international aspirations, however Taylor's first-class record cannot be ignored. The 21-year-old Leicestershire batsman has passed 1,000 runs in the last two seasons and was the youngest Foxes player to score a one-day century and first-class double century in 2009. He is clearly on the England selectors' radar having featured for the Lions on the recent tour of the Caribbean, scoring 527 runs at 58.55 on his maiden tour. The diminutive right-hander is a strong back-foot player and certainly deserves a bigger stage.
Hildreth, Taylor, Gale, Craig Kieswetter and Hampshire opener Adams shared seven centuries for the Lions in the Caribbean and the latter perhaps has a better case than any other for a place in one of England's sides this summer. Adams piled on the runs in all forms last season, scoring 1,351 in the four-day arena, 668 in Twenty20 cricket, and 496 in Clydesdale Bank40 competition. At the ripe age of 30, Adams appears to be hitting the peak of his powers and surely deserves a call-up for one of the limited-over sides. He kept himself busy in the off-season too, helping Auckland Aces to the HRV Twenty20 Cup title with a brisk half-century in the final.
If winning the race to 1,000 runs for the season was the benchmark for an England call-up, aggressive Yorkshire opener Lyth would have been on a plane to Australia by July. The 23-year-old posted 1,509 Division One runs last summer - more than any other player - as the White Rose pressed for the title after being labelled as one of the pre-season relegation favourites. His game is suited to the longer format, however England are not short of high-quality opening batsmen and an international bow this summer will probably come too soon for Lyth. Nevertheless, if messrs Strauss and Cook are unavailable for Test duty for any reason, the Whitby right-hander's early season form will have to be monitored.
A slightly left-field pick, however a potential post-World Cup shake-up leaves up-and-coming talents such as Hamilton-Brown with a glimmer of hope of forcing their way into England's limited-overs reckoning. The Surrey skipper is an aggressive opening batsman in one-day cricket and bowls part-time off-spin. He skippered England at U19 level and is held in such high regard by his county that he was awarded the captaincy upon arrival from Sussex in 2010. RHB flourished in the 40-over format last season, teaming up with Steven Davies at the top order with destructive effect on a number of occasions. He smashed his maiden century for the county in front of the Sky Sports cameras, racking up 115 from just 69 balls as the Lions posted a record 386-3. A few more performances like that will certainly get Geoff Miller and co talking.
An eye-catching debut first-class season saw Stokes earn a place in the England Performance Programe in Australia during the winter Ashes campaign - a ringing endorsement to say the least. The 19-year-old batting all-rounder was one of very few bright lights during a tough season for Durham, who relinquished their Division One title to Notts in meek fashion. The left-hander took to the top tier of domestic cricket like a duck to water, finishing with a batting average of 46.25, greater than any of his team-mates. He posted two centuries and two half centuries in his 19 innings and he is being tipped for an even more productive summer in 2011. A strong off-side player and a clever player of spin, expect to see Stokes settled in England's middle-order in the years to come.
Glamorgan's early bloomer grabbed plenty of headlines again last season, taking 63 first-class wickets over the course of the summer. The 20-year-old has smashed a host of records at the Welsh county, becoming the youngest person ever to play for Glamorgan 2nd XI, aged 14 years and 353 days, and the youngest person to have played for Wales Minor Counties, when he took 3-48 against the Netherlands. Figures of 12-118 as a 17-year-old against Gloucestershire in 2007 then saw Harris become the youngest Glamorgan player to claim 10 wickets in a match, and the records don't stop there! Last season he became the youngest player to take 100 first-class wickets for the club as Glamorgan narrowly missed out on promotion. While he bowls at a lively pace, he is also no mug with the bat, proof in the pudding a highest first-class score of 87 not out.
The promising Surrey quick was handed a surprise, albeit belated, ticket to the World Cup in the subcontinent and will be hoping to force his way into England's starting XI this summer. A total of 10 one-dayers against Sri Lanka and India give Dernbach, who operates up near 90mph on his day, plenty of motivation to start strongly for Surrey when play resumes. The 24-year-old starred for England Lions in the Caribbean, 19 wickets at 15.63 apiece prompting England's selectors to turn his way instead of a number of high-profile candidates when Ajmal Shahzad suffered an injury at the World Cup. The South African-born player spent the previous two winters on the England Cricket Board Fast Bowling Programme in Florida and Chennai and is a graduate of the Surrey academy.
England Lions coach Mick Newell believes teenage Hampshire spinner Briggs is destined to play international cricket, and who am I to disagree?? Newell may have guided Nottinghamshire to the Division One title last season, but I won our domestic fantasy cricket league by a country mile. You decide the greater achievement. Anyway, back to Briggs. The left-arm spinner enhanced his burgeoning reputation with a sparkling tour of the West Indies for the England Lions, finishing as the leading bowler in the four-day domestic competition. He possesses great control and helped spin Hampshire to the Twenty20 title last term. He took 31 wickets at an average of 14 in the competition and bowls with ample flight and spin. With Monty Panesar failing to break into the England side on the recent Ashes tour, Briggs has the chance to overtake him in the pecking order behind first-choice spinner Graeme Swann.
Joe Root a certainty for future in long term. Next Trott, but english born and bred
Posted 14:40 6th May 2011
What about Alex Hales???? And also Jos Butler??!!
Posted 10:30 20th April 2011
I think if everyone is fit then Eoin Morgan is a nailed on cert for the first Test series of the summer. Personally I don't think he's the long-term answer, but he deserves first go. If any of the batters fail, then serious consideration should be given, initially to Hildreth, to whoever is scoring runs in the County Championship.
Posted 22:00 19th April 2011
What about James Vince, looks an impressive young player and Dawid Malan, especially for limited overs cricket if we are looking to the next cricket world cup Also the return of Graeme Onions only strengthens Englands options and could possibly return later this summer, think Sri Lanka would come too early for him
Posted 20:11 15th April 2011
a few other names to throw into the hat. Croft (Lancs) bats and bowls, Youngs and Walker (Oxford MCCU) very talented youngsters, also Northeast (Kent),
Posted 00:20 15th April 2011
John Cresswell says... Hope they do not pick Alex Hales.Got too many Notts boys already! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Well done for a well thought out comment and excellent reasoning for not having Hales near the England set up. This young player is a very exciting talent and will one day be a regular for England, in all sorts of forms of the game. As exciting as Pieterson, but less 'me, me, me' and more of a team player
Posted 21:42 14th April 2011
i agree with the ten players.however , they are missing 1 player called Jos Butler. i think he is the best young cricketer around this days should deserved a chance to play for england.Although he is a wicket keeper, somerset play him out in ther field and is one of the best fielders for somerset.
Posted 12:40 14th April 2011
I'm a Surrey fan but don't think Rory Hamilton-Brown should be getting a chance in the England test team and neither should James Hildreth. With Strauss, Cook, Trott and Bell we have 4 batsmen that will on average get us 150-200 an innings with Pieterson and to a lesser extent Prior in there to hit big and look to get the centuries needed to win games with RHB or Hildreth in there we're likely to get a lot f scores of around 250-300 all out and the odd huge score when they all get their big scores but this will win individual games not series
Posted 15:40 12th April 2011
What about Rashid, Woakes & Steve Davies? They should already be in the England starting XI with James Taylor.
Posted 11:06 10th April 2011
Hope they do not pick Alex Hales.Got too many Notts boys already!
Posted 21:45 9th April 2011
i agreed most of these guys,,, bt i am in great favour of hilderth,, he is the best player n most desreved boy to play for england against lankan this summer...
Posted 12:21 9th April 2011
Alex Hales surely deserves a mention too?? maybe more for his one day/ 20/20 play though
Posted 11:58 9th April 2011
How many of these guys are South African or South African born? :-)
Posted 07:48 8th April 2011
Hi think James Taylor has a big chance this year
Posted 18:29 7th April 2011
No mention of Johnny Bairstow - surely he could have cracked this top 10????
Posted 09:29 7th April 2011
Hildreth must be considered due the sheer accumulation of runs last season. It also looks as if he did a more than decent job of captaining the lions in the West Indies during the winter. Only drawback is that he plays for the unfashionable county of Somerset. Then there is Buttler and Keiswetter to consider if only Trescothick was still available.
Posted 08:55 7th April 2011
Biased I know but about time someone put Jimmy Adams in the frame ,more than deserves a call and scores runs anywhere. Watching him in the field he must still think he is 16 as he does not stop. Good to see Danny Briggs mentioned he was my wild card for Australia last winter but has shown in the Windies how good he is. Whats more Hampshire still have natural talent spinners in their midst. By the way I was born in Surrey but prefer cricket at league and county level in Hampshire. More friendly and more homegrown.
Posted 08:55 7th April 2011
I think Chris Nash (Sussex) is pretty unlucky to miss out, he bowls part time spin just like Hamilton-Brown and is a quality batsman
Posted 00:55 7th April 2011
Agree with most but think Buttler (Somerset) and Croft (Lancs) are unlucky to miss out. Nice piece
Posted 17:27 6th April 2011
I'm a massive fan of Briggs. Think he has a great chance of breaking into the one-day teams soon!!
Posted 14:21 6th April 2011