It’s probably social media that’s sapped our taste for talent-spotting. The online world is awash with people predicting great things for players. They’re usually wrong but we know as well as anyone that it’s a numbers game: predict great things for absolutely everyone and then flag up only your ‘hits’ come 2024.
We tipped Shakib-al-Hasan for greatness in 2006 at a time when Cricinfo thought he was a medium-pacer. But then we also tipped Andy Solomons for greatness around the same time and that didn’t really pan out, did it?
Our county cricket Ones to Watch are even more fun to revisit…
- Graeme Swann and Matt Prior in 2006. And also Sajid Mahmood and Bilal Shafayat
- Stuart Broad and Adil Rashid in 2007. And also Tom Smith and James Benning
- Tim Bresnan, Nick Compton, Joe Denly, Steven Finn and Liam Plunkett in 2008 (make of that what you will)
- Mark Davies, Steven Davies and Paul Horton in 2009
- Phil Mustard in 2010
- Ben Stokes in 2011 and 2012 and 2013
- Usman Arshad in 2014 and also Adil Rashid who you may have spotted was in there pretty much every year
And that’s where we left it because can you honestly conclude anything from the above other than that a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day?
And so to George Garton, who is already ‘known’ but hadn’t actually done anything of any real significance until this week.
Garton was temporarily drafted into England’s Ashes squad in 2017 after nine first-class games and nothing better than a three-for to his name. He was quick though and wrong-handed – a combination that tends to get people’s attention.
“I managed to get it down there and let them sniff a few,” he said about a stint bowling in the Victoria nets at the MCG, which probably says something about how he approaches his work.
This week he finally took a five-for in his 16th first-class match. Then he took a four-for in the second dig.
It was a low-scoring game and Sussex lost, but he got Alastair Cook twice and looked zesty.
The scorecard tells us he’s unafraid to go for a few in pursuit of wickets.
Footage tells us two more things:
- He doesn’t hold back
- Commentators should avoid saying “bowls” every time a bowler bowls if their words are likely to make it into a highlights montage
So we’ll keep an eye on him.
We’re not making any grand claims about what he might achieve. We’re just passively watching. The raw ingredients are noteworthy. We’re intrigued.