The Wright man
Michael Atherton praises Luke Wright's impressive 99 not out as England beat Afghanistan in Colombo.
Last Updated: 21/09/12 6:57pm
Luke Wright's stylish innings against Afghanistan has secured his place at the top of England's batting order, according to Michael Atherton.
Wright smashed 99 not out off 55 balls to anchor England to 196-5 from thier 20 overs. The 27-year-old struck eight fours and six sixes in a terrific knock, but just missed out on a century as he could only manage two from the final ball of England's innings.
England's bowlers tore through the Afghanistan top order and reduced their opponents to just 26-8 but Gulbodin Naib struck 44 late on to frustrate the defending champions and help them to 80 all out - avoiding the lowest score in a Twenty20 international.
Wright deservedly picked up the man of the match award and Atherton says the impressive innings will be a massive confidence booster for the Sussex man, despite the standard of the opposition, as well as proving the selectors were right to pick him ahead of Ravi Bopara at the top of the order.
"It would have been a thoroughly deserved 100," Atherton told Sky Sports. "It was impressive striking of the ball, particularly clean. And it was good use of the feet against three pretty decent spin bowlers.
"Afghanistan's bowling was much more impressive than their batting or their fielding so I think the runs that Luke Wright scored today, he can take a great deal of confidence from.
"Before the last World Twenty20 England made some very late decisions with their batting with Lumb and Kieswetter coming in late at the top of the order.
"They have done the same with Luke Wright here because obviously they were planning on playing Bopara in the top order. But it looks as though they have made the right choice in Luke Wright."
Fellow pundit Rob Key added: "He showed a maturity where he looked like a proper batsman. Before he was an all-rounder and did a fair bit of bowling.
"But it is almost as if he has gone away and readdressed the fact that he wants to be a batsman and the bowling is very much second fiddle."
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain was impressive with England's display and believes Stuart Broad's side have sent out a strong message to the rest of the teams ahead of their clash with India.
"England learned that they are a very good side and gaining a lot of momentum and more importantly others sides will see them and think, 'crikey England are pretty good', he told Sky Sports.
"So they have just sent out a little message to everybody else. India struggled a bit against Afghanistan and England have gone out there and absolutely walloped them.
"They would probably have liked to be pushed a little bit harder to be honest because they will be pushed harder as the tournament goes on but you can only play what is put up in front of you."