Young guns poised to fire
Numerous youngsters will be seeking to enhance their reputations as players of great promise when the 2013 domestic season begins.
In this county-by-county guide, ecb.co.uk identifies 19 men under the age of 23 (yes, we included both Overton twins) who appear likely to enjoy success.
Some are already regulars for their respective first teams, while others have yet to play first-class cricket. All are worth keeping an eye on as their careers progress.
Peter Burgoyne (Derbyshire, Date of Birth: November 11, 1993)
An off-spinning all-rounder capped by England at Under-19 level, Burgoyne marked his first-class debut in October with a century for Zimbabwean outfit Southern Rocks. He has already represented Derbyshire in 40-over cricket and signed a new three-year contract with the Division Two champions at the end of last season. In addition to obvious talent with bat and ball, Burgoyne appears to be blessed with an excellent temperament, something that has impressed Derbyshire head coach Karl Krikken.
Keaton Jennings (Durham, DoB: June 19, 1992)
The son of former South Africa coach Ray, Jennings captained the Proteas’ Under-19 side but is eligible to play county cricket as a non-overseas player due to his Sunderland-born mother and hopes to represent England. After scoring heavily for Durham’s Second XI last summer, the tall left-hander enjoyed a run in the first team highlighted by an assured 70 from the top of the order against Lancashire at Aigburth.
Reece Topley (Essex, DoB: February 21, 1994)
Almost two years have passed since Topley, a giant left-arm seamer possessing great maturity and the ability to swing the ball, marked his elevation to Essex’s LV= County Championship team with 14 wickets in his first three appearances. Similar in stature to Steven Finn, many have tipped the teenager to follow the Middlesex paceman in gaining full international honours. Like Jennings, he comes from a cricketing family, with father Don having represented Essex between 1985 and 1994.
Andrew Salter (Glamorgan, DoB: June 1, 1993)
Another all-rounder who bowls off-spin, Salter broke into Glamorgan’s one-day side in 2012 and earned rave reviews from Matthew Mott, the club’s head of elite performance. His only first-class experience to date has been with Cardiff MCCU, but that can be expected to change this summer, particularly with Glamorgan legend Robert Croft having retired.
Chris Dent (Gloucestershire, DoB: January 20, 1991)
One of several bright young things handed responsibility by Gloucestershire, Dent only recently celebrated his 22nd birthday but has already featured in 36 first-class matches. After an injury-plagued 2012, the left-hander could well be ready to kick on and improve a batting average in whites that currently hovers just below 30. He is also an outstanding fielder.
James Vince (Hampshire, DoB: March 14, 1991)
Vince, a tourist with England Lions for the last two winters, boasts even more experience than Dent, having featured in more than 150 games across all formats, but is still only 22. An elegant strokemaker who has prompted comparisons to Michael Vaughan, he will be eager to score heavily on a more consistent basis as he bids to push for a place in England’s senior squad.
Daniel Bell-Drummond (Kent, DoB: August 4, 1993)
The leading run-scorer for England Under-19s in youth one-day internationals, Bell-Drummond is arguably the most exciting top-order batsman in the country. A naturally attacking player, he demonstrated his potential last summer with scores of 42 and 48 not out for Kent against a touring South African attack containing Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis.
Alex Davies (Lancashire, DoB: August 23, 1994)
Davies made his Clydesdale Bank 40 debut for Lancashire two days before turning 17, making him the youngest one-day player in Red Rose history. That was back in August 2011, but the wicketkeeper-batsman was handed another chance to impress in the final LV= County Championship fixture of 2012 against Surrey. A first professional contract followed and Davies will now seek to put pressure on Gareth Cross, Lancashire’s first-choice stumper.
Shiv Thakor (Leicestershire, DoB: October 22, 1993)
A technically sound middle-order batsman and improving seamer, Thakor became the first Leicestershire-born player to make a century on first-class debut when striking 134 against Loughborough MCCU in 2011. He performed superbly for his home county in 2012, averaging 61 with the bat in six first-class appearances. As a result, he was selected as captain for England Under-19s’ winter tour of South Africa, only to be forced home early with a broken finger.
Paul Stirling (Middlesex, DoB: September 3 1990)
It may seem strange to include a player with 57 international caps in this list. Yet while Stirling has already made waves in limited-overs cricket for Middlesex and Ireland, establishing himself as one of the most destructive opening batsmen around, he has yet to enjoy quite the same success in whites. Could 2013 be the year in which the eye-catching batting all-rounder pushes on to the next level with a string of substantial first-class scores?
Olly Stone (Northamptonshire, DoB: October 9, 1993)
When Thakor was ruled out of the England Under-19 tour to South Africa, it was seam bowler Stone who took over as captain. He went on to lead by example in stunning fashion throughout the two youth Tests, claiming 17 wickets at a remarkable average of 10. Stone’s potential had already been noted by Northamptonshire, for whom he made his first-class debut in May 2012. He will no doubt be eager to experience first-team cricket on a regular basis this summer.
Sam Wood (Nottinghamshire, DoB: April 3, 1993)
A product of the Nottinghamshire youth system, Wood is a left-handed batsman who has also exhibited considerable promise with his off-spin bowling. After making his first-class debut in strange circumstances - as a nominated replacement when Samit Patel was called up by England three days into a championship match back in June 2011 - he delivered a fine all-round display against Surrey last September when selected from the start. A couple of weeks earlier, he had struck a century for England at the Under-19 World Cup.
Craig & Jamie Overton (Somerset, DoB: April 10, 1994)
In an interview with this website in February, veteran paceman Steve Kirby struggled to contain his excitement when commenting on these twin brothers, who have already attracted much attention due to their all-round prowess. Craig recently toured Australia with England Lions, while Jamie is described by Kirby as “having some real gas on him”. After making their senior debuts last summer as Somerset battled a host of injuries, both Overtons face the challenge of fending off senior colleagues this summer if they are to gain regular action. Do not bet against it.
Dominic Sibley (Surrey, DoB: September 5, 1995)
The youngest man on this list, Sibley is unlikely to break into Surrey’s first team just yet. However, it is well worth keeping tabs on the Epsom-born teenager following his strong performances for the England Under-19 team in South Africa this winter. Sibley batted for almost seven hours when carrying his bat for 112 in the second youth Test and went on to strike 84 in a losing cause in the final ODI. No wonder he is so highly rated at the Kia Oval, where he was handed a two-year summer contract in October.
Luke Wells (Sussex, DoB: December 29, 1990)
Another to have followed his father - in this case former England batsman Alan - into first-class cricket, Wells is a determined left-hander who has quickly established himself as an integral member of Sussex’s line-up. After striking three centuries in his first full season of county cricket, the left-hander improved his average last summer - no mean feat in a year that saw many batsmen struggle to cope with bowler-friendly conditions.
Ateeq Javid (Warwickshire, DoB: October 15, 1991)
Prior to his appointment as the new director of cricket at Edgbaston, then assistant coach Dougie Brown described Javid as “an exciting, young batsman with a great future ahead of him”. Having captained Warwickshire’s Second XI in 2012, Javid featured in last week’s Champion County victory over MCC - his ninth first-class appearance to date.
Aneesh Kapil (Worcestershire, DoB: August 3,1993)
Kapil is a genuine all-rounder who represented Staffordshire at junior level before being picked up by Worcestershire. His whippy pace bowling has already posed problems for several county batsmen, while he is able to offer style and substance with the bat, as initially evidenced by a half-century on his first-class debut at Horsham in August 2011.
Alex Lees (Yorkshire, DoB: April 14, 1993)
Yorkshire have had no shortage of promising young batsmen in recent years, with the likes of Adam Lyth, Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance and Joe Root all enjoying success. Lees, who made his first-class debut at 17 in a match against India A, has been tipped to follow suit by none other than Geoff Boycott - although the ex-England captain acknowledges the left-hander is probably “about three years away” from pushing for international selection.