King Cricket’s county players to watch in 2013

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This article originally began: “Another year, another batch of middling cricketers, one of whom will get picked in some sort of performance squad giving us a very flimsy sense of having been right about something at least once in our life.”

What prescience. Yesterday Rikki Clarke was included in a 30-man preliminary squad for the Champions Trophy. This will undoubtedly be the high point for this year’s ‘ones to watch’.

Qualification criteria:

  • Qualified to play for England
  • No established internationals
  • Youngish
  • Playing in the first division of the County Championship

From last year’s batch, Nick Compton’s raised himself above eligibility, while the three Lancashire players contributed sufficiently little that the entire team has now been taken out of the equation.

Steven Davies, Surrey

Yeah, why not. Let’s stick with him.

Ben Stokes, Durham

Same. He took wickets last year.

Rikki Clarke, Warwickshire

Count Cricket seemed to mention him most weeks and we’ve watched him before (we’re always ahead of the curve with these things). One major plus point is that with his distinctive looks, he’s easy to spot, which makes life easier for everyone.

James Hildreth, Somerset

One to watch in 2011 after we foolishly spurned him in favour of Joe Denly the year before on the grounds that Denly’s nickname is ‘No Pants’. We dropped Hildreth last year, even though he’d done okay and he promptly did slightly better. A return to being watched should do for any international ambitions he might have for the foreseeable future.

Adam Lyth, Yorkshire

Averaged 26 when Yorkshire got relegated. Averaged 53 when they got promoted again. Has he improved or is the second division just dead easy? It’s the latter, but let’s watch him anyway. We still think he’s good.

Keith Barker, Warwickshire

Haven’t thought about this one much, but it’s best not to scrutinise these things.


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  1. I’d have slipped Azeem Rafiq on that list: is he the next attacking, ebulent, wicket taking spinner who can bat and field (in the mould of Swann), or is he the next bright young spinning prospect from Yorkshire who can bat and spin a little bit, but is not really good enough at either (like Rashid or Dawson)? In time we’ll know, in time we’ll know…..

    1. We nearly recalled Rashid, but his form last season was so poor we’re not sure he’ll get many games. We still think he has a future.

    2. I went to journalism college with Richard Dawson in 2007. He spent the entire course calling everyone “Big ‘un” and talking about the time he faced Brett Lee in The Ashes.

  2. I used to like these pieces when you seemed to (mostly) care who you picked, but the new approach of not really giving a damn about any of them is much better.

    Maybe you should do a bit more of this? A 20-part series on the 100 players to watch in the Bangladesh Premier League, that sort of thing.

  3. Does Stokes inclusion imply that you cannot be dropped from the KC list for disciplinary reasons?

  4. Mike Selvey thinks Rashid is finished; he made a comment BTL on a Guardian article to that effect.

    I also read somewhere that Hildreth will struggle to get picked for England because he is generally very unpopular with other pros (unnamed source, no specifics, natch).

  5. Rikki Clarke has had an International career already (22 internationals, all 7 to 10 years ago), is not what I would describe as youngish (he is 31) and has had his disciplinary issues (perhaps way behind him now).

    I know, I am infecting a subjective column with mere fact. I’ll go and lie down for a while until I am over it.

  6. Keith Barker is terrific and well worth taking a chance on but the ECB won’t as he is in his late twenties. It’s a shame, as he came to cricket late and still has a lot of growth potential.

    He took a pile of wickets, and top-order wickets to boot, and batted well, in Division One. Should be a good player for years to come.

  7. Last year Varun Chopra was one of only two English qualified players to score 1,000 first class division one runs.

    Who was the other?

    I can’t be bothered to check.

    1. The boy Compton, surely?

      (I cannot be bothered to confirm this assertion by looking it up.)

    2. Nor are we going to look it up, but being as he was a whisker away from scoring 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May, we presume he cobbled together another dozen runs or so to get past that mark and being as he’s playing for England, we presume that he’s ‘English qualified’.

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