Life after Stuart Broad: What did England’s next lot of quick bowlers get up to this winter?

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James Anderson and Stuart Broad made their debuts in their early 20s and then just carried on playing until they were middle-aged. This means the players we might ordinarily think of as constituting ‘the next generation’ are mostly now on the cusp of retirement themselves. England have however given Test debuts to four men in their mid-20s in the last couple of years: Matt Fisher, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Potts and Josh Tongue. These guys will presumably be the ones queueing up to take Broad’s place. So what have they been up to this winter?

James Anderson made his debut before Martin Saggers, who is now a 51-year-old international umpire. Anderson is of course still playing now. Thanks to him and Broad, there hasn’t been a great deal of room for anyone else.

> What James Anderson bowling in a bobble hat tells us about ourselves

Remember young Steven Finn? We recall looking at Finn’s age once and thinking, “There’s the man who’ll take over opening bowling duties when Anderson retires in a year or two.”

A great many moons have passed since Finn was ‘the next generation’.

He is 34 now. His final Test was in 2016.

Where do all those moons go, eh?

Here are a few other seamers who’ve plied their trade in England whites since then:

  • Mark Wood is 34
  • Chris Woakes is 35
  • Jake Ball is 33
  • Toby Roland-Jones is 36

That’s an awful lot of moons under the bridge and even the next lot are knocking on a bit. Ollie Robinson and Olly Stone are both 30, while Craig and Jamie Overton will also depart their 20s in a week or so.

Jofra Archer is 28 – but that just feels like a whole different article. Fisher, Mahmood, Potts and Tongue – that’s who we’re talking about today. What have these four been up to these last few months?

Matt Fisher (26)

Cricinfo’s profile page describes Matt Fisher as a “languid, lanky fast bowler” which might make you think of Steve Harmison even before you’ve got to the bit about his, “ability to extract steepling bounce from a good length.”

These are what you might call ‘strong raw materials’ and he did take a wicket with his second ball in Test cricket. Unfortunately, that remains his only wicket, the next 160 deliveries having proven rather less productive.

Fisher went on the England Lions tour to India in January and played in the first and third of the “unofficial Tests” (in no way are they Tests). He took 4-65 when India A were responding to England Lions’ 553-8, which feels pretty handy. Unfortunately, he was only able to follow that up with 0-50 in the second innings and 2-98 across the two innings of the third Test.

India is possibly not his natural habitat.

Saqib Mahmood (27)

Saqib Mahmood is in many ways the most interesting of the three, given that England have only really had two old ball seamers in the last 20 years (Simon Jones and Mark Wood). He does however seem to be copying their fitness records too, of late.

He suffered a recurrence of that timeless fast bowling ailment, the stress fracture in July last year. More recently, he skipped Lancashire’s pre-season trip to India after deciding against applying for a visa, having previously failed to get one for an England Lions trip. He apparently got as far as going to the Consulate General of India in Birmingham, but was told that he needed to go to the High Commission of India in London instead and it rather sounds like Lancashire weighed the likely hoop-jumping against the benefits of him going on the trip and simply decided against applying. (We still remember the forms we had to fill in to get a two-day extension to our visa when we went to India one time. There was a multiple choice question about eye colour and one of the options was ‘hozel’.)

This means that Mahmood’s recent cricket amounts to spending time in Dubai ‘increasing his bowling loads’.

Matt Potts (26)

Formerly Matty Potts and for our money first in the queue for more Test caps because – far more than the other three – he seems to possess the handy ability to properly skittle sides.

He bowled a grand total of three overs during England’s one-day tour of the West Indies late last year, but did some serious work on the Lions tour that followed: 4-30 and 2-45 in the first not-a-Test; 6-125 in the second; and 6-57 and 2-82 in the third. India fielded a good few batters who’ve played a Test or two, so that return isn’t to be sniffed at.

Potts took 54 wickets in 21 innings in the County Championship last season, but unfortunately in the second division, so none of those efforts count.

Josh Tongue (26)

Josh Tongue managed to pass himself off as the quick one when he played against Australia last summer. That was as much down to his team-mates as anything, but he did bowl at a reasonable lick and took a few wickets.

Tongue was due to go on England’s white ball tour of the Caribbean over the winter, but suffered some kind of a pectoral injury which apparently required surgery. He doesn’t seem to have made Nottinghamshire’s team for the game against Cardiff UCCE this week. (He plays for Notts now.)


One of these fellas surely has to claim an inked-in spot in England’s Test team before many more moons have rolled by. Our money is on Potts, in large part because he doesn’t currently appear to be injured.

If he doesn’t manage it and none of the other three makes a compelling case in the coming summer, a whole new generation of quick of bowlers will have a few more moons in their legs and we may find ourselves skipping past yet another generation.

> Stuart Broad: Titan of Ridiculousness


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    1. Talking of being well on the way towards three figures and things that are very old, did you see… the 48-year-old record for highest test total with no century fell during the BAN-SRL test? Well, it did. What a day to be middle-aged.

    1. Surely a surefire route to invincibility would be to strive for basic competence in a tinpot league where standards are otherwise incredibly low.

      1. Ah, such as the “Derby Delusions Of Adequacy Dudes”, for example, in the crazily mooted possible second division of The Hundred.

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