Ten under twenty 2017

With another year of the County Championship kicking off recently, I follow up last year’s list of the most exciting talent under the age of 20 with a new group of players ready to take the County scene by storm.

George Garton getty
Sussex’s George Garton (Centre) enjoyed a rapid rise into the England Lions side in 2016. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Aaron Beard (Age 19) – Essex

A right-arm fast bowler who has spent the winter with the England U19’s in India, Aaron Beard has impressed many at Chelmsford after rising through the ranks into the first XI during the 2016 season.

He was rewarded for a strong showing with a new one year extension at the end of last summer. After impressing with 4-62 on his first-class debut against the touring Sri Lankans in May last year he went on to play two further Championship matches later that month before dropping back into Second XI and U19 cricket.

But 2016 wasn’t the beginning of Beard’s journey as a known cricketer. In 2013, he hit the headlines as a 15-year-old schoolboy, when he was asked to field for the England side during a pre-Ashes scrimmage against Essex. Luckily for Beard his school gave him permission to skip class for a day out in the field instead.

What 2017 holds in store?

With a bit of luck on his side, Beard will have a regular chance to pit his wits against First Division batsmen for the first time after Essex earned promotion last summer. He began well with 3-47 and 2-45 in the season opener against Lancashire before dropping out of the side for the next match against Somerset in Taunton.

Essex’s first season in the top flight since 2010 has seen them reinforce the fast bowling stocks with the arrivals of both Mohammed Amir and Neil Wagner – who will share the overseas responsibly. With club legends Graham Napier and David Masters having hung up their boots following stellar careers, bowling places are up for grabs at the County Ground. Beard will be vying with the likes of Jamie Porter, Matt Quinn and Matt Dixon for a place alongside either of the overseas duo.

Dominic Bess (19) – Somerset

An offspin bowler of enormous potential, Devon-born Dominic Bess burst onto the scene with 6-28 on his County Championship debut against Warwickshire last September. This was no ordinary debut. His wickets included the former England batsmen Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell with successive deliveries as he ripped apart the Bears middle order.

Bowling in tandem with fellow spinner Jack Leach, Bess followed up his dream debut with an equally polished display against Nottinghamshire later the same month. This time his first-innings figures read an impressive 22.5-10-43-5. He also showed an ability with bat in hand too, striking 41 when others struggled to adapt to a turning Taunton wicket.

Bess was one of the key beneficiaries of the ECB’s new 2016 initiative to introduce more spin bowlers to the County game via a no-toss rule. Without the rule in place it’s doubtful he would have been given the chance to bowl alongside fellow spinners Leach and Roedolf van der Merve.

After a successful first foray into County Cricket, he spent most his winter Down Under playing grade cricket for the West Torrens Cricket Club in Adelaide.

What 2017 holds in store?

With more than half (8 out of 14) of Somerset’s Championship fixtures being played before the NatWest Blast kicks off in early July, its likely – with both Leach and van der Merve ahead of him in the spin ranks – that Bess doesn’t see any Championship action until at least August.

That could mean a summer of Second XI cricket awaits Bess unless he can break into either of the two limited overs formats. That said, if Leach continues to take mountains of wickets and England are looking for another spin option for their Test series with South Africa and the West Indies then Bess could well find a first team spot available.

Dominic Bess Getty
Somerset’s Dominic Bess found the 2016 Taunton wickets very much to his liking. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Ollie Pope (19) – Surrey

A talented wicketkeeper/batsman, Ollie Pope broke into the Surrey setup late last summer after some impressive performances with both the County’s Second XI and the England U19’s.

He made his Surrey debut in an important fixture too. With a place in the Royal London Cup final at stake, Pope was thrust into the spotlight at Headingley as his Surrey side defeated Yorkshire to reach the Lords showpiece. Batting at seven, he made 20 0ff 23 before being runout on the final ball of the innings.

One of many wicketkeeper/batsmen to have been on the Surrey books in recent times, Pope was rewarded with a two-year professional contract last August having represented the club since he was nine-years-old.

Before signing a professional contract, he combined his days in the Surrey academy with a prolific run-scoring spell at Cranleigh School.

He made his first-class debut in a recent MCCU fixture against Oxford University at The Parks.

What 2017 holds in store?

With former wicketkeepers Steven Davies and Gary Wilson having left for pastures new with Somerset and Derbyshire respectively, Pope suddenly finds himself further up the pecking order at The Oval.

He will still start the season as deputy to regular glovesman Ben Foakes, though. Nevertheless, with Foakes attracting series interest from the England selectors, there could still be a chance that Pope will battle with Rory Burns to see some time behind the stumps.

As for seeing time in front of the stumps, that will be a difficult task – especially as Surrey have further strengthened the batting with ex-Durham pair Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick.

Even if he doesn’t see much first-team action in 2017, Pope will at least get the opportunity to improve his skills by again working alongside former England wicketkeeper Alec Stewart.

 

Josh Coughlin (19) – Durham

Sunderland-born fast bowler Josh Coughlin is another to fall off the long conveyer belt of North East talent in recent times.

The 19-year-old made his first-class bow against a touring Sri Lanka A side last June – in doing so he joined his brother Paul in having represented the county. He followed that up a month later by debuting for the England U19 side against their Sri Lankan counterparts before succumbing to a knee injury.

He returned later in the season to help Durham capture the 2016 Second XI Championship, whilst also continuing to represent Durham Academy in the North East Premier League.

After captaining the Academy side to the NEPL T20 cup last year, he was rewarded with a one-year summer development contract ahead of the 2017 season.

What 2017 holds in store?

Despite Durham’s well-documented financial problems leading to a flurry of departures in the offseason, the quick bowling has remained relatively intact with only Asher Hart (Hampshire) and Jamie Harrison (Released) leaving the club.

That means that Coughlin will be very much fighting it out for a place in the team. The experienced trio of Graham Onions, Chris Rushworth and Mark Wood will no doubt start the season in the side so Coughlin will be left to compete for playing time alongside the likes of his brother Paul, James Weighell, Brydon Carse, Barry McCarthy, Gavin Main and Usman Arshad.

Cracking a first-team spot in 2017 will be difficult with such an array of bowling talent available to Durham. However, it only takes a few injuries and likely international call-ups for the likes of Wood and McCarthy to lead to the resources being stretched and opportunities arising. In the meanwhile, Coughlin will continue his development with the county’s Second XI and club side Hetton Lyons.

Delray Rawlins (19) – Sussex

A hard-hitting batsman and left-arm spinner, Delray Rawlins certainly comes with an interesting story.

In 2013, he made his international debut for his country of birth Bermuda at the tender age of 15. In 2014, he earned a scholarship at the prestigious St Bede’s School in East Sussex as part of a programme organised by the Bermudian cricket board and just a year later he joined the Sussex Academy after a successful trial.

After impressing in Second XI cricket, where he was often the sole spinner in the side as well as batting in the top order, he signed a one-year professional contract with the Hove-based club last October before recently adding an extra year onto that to stay until the end of 2018.

Despite representing Bermuda as recently as November – when he played in the World Cricket League Division Four matches in Los Angeles – Rawlins had pledged his future alliance to his adopted country.

And in doing so he made an immediate impression with a debut hundred for the England U19 programme in India in January. That unbeaten 109 was followed by scores of: 46, 96, 9, 17, 70*, 15, 140 and 49 as he established himself as a young man for all occasions across the five ODI and two Youth Test matches.

What does 2017 hold in store?

After making his first-class debut in a recent MCCU fixture with Cardiff University, Rawlins was selected for Sussex’s opening 2017 County Championship fixture with Kent at Hove.

Batting at number three he made a gritty 78-ball 22 after coming to the crease with his side in early trouble. He will be looking to cement his place in the side before veterans Ed Joyce, Luke Wells and Matt Machen all become available for selection again.

Going forward, Rawlins could well be battling it out for an allrounders role with the likes of captain Luke Wright, Chris Jordan and new Kolpak signing David Wiese.

His power hitting and tidy spin could well become useful in both the Royal London Cup and NatWest Blast.

 

George Bartlett (19) – Somerset

George Bartlett could well be the best batting talent to emerge at Taunton since current captain Tom Abell.

A right-handed batsman with a bright future, Bartlett graduated from the Somerset Academy last summer before signing a one-year professional contract in October after impressing in the club’s Second XI competitions.

He’s also been a regular contributor for the England U19 side in recent years. None more so that when he was part of a gigantic stand worth 321 in 82 overs with Max Holden in India earlier this year. Bartlett’s contribution was a huge 179 (The highest score by an England U19 batsman overseas, beating the 170 made by Nasser Hassain in Sri Lanka in 1987) and he added further scores of 68, 0 and 76 to round out a successful Youth Test series on the subcontinent.

What does 2017 hold in store?

Despite the retirement of Chris Rogers (Who returns as batting coach this summer) finding a spot for Bartlett in a crowded middle order looks initially impossible. With Marcus Trescothick and Dean Elgar likely to open the batting, Abell will move down to three and will likely be followed by James Hildreth at four, Steven Davies at five and then two of Roedolf van der Merve, Jim Allenby, Peter Trego or Lewis Gregory at six and seven.

And that lineup doesn’t include promising wicketkeeper Ryan Davies who is likely to perhaps miss out due to the signing of Steven Davies.

So, it’s likely that Bartlett must continue knocking down the door with Second XI runs as he waits for an opportunity further down the line.

 

George Bartlett and Max Holden getty
George Bartlett and Max Holden embrace during their 321-run stand in Nagpur. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Max Holden (19) – Northamptonshire (on loan from Middlesex)

A left-handed middle-order batsman – who’s also capable of opening – Max Holden moved on loan to Northamptonshire until the end of June after finding opportunities limited at parent club Middlesex.

That’s not to say that he’s not held in high esteem at Lords. He just finds himself behind the likes of Adam Voges, Sam Robson, Nick Gubbins, Dawid Malan and Nick Compton in a stacked Middlesex batting unit.

Cambridgeshire-born Holden signed a four-year contract with Middlesex in 2016 after graduating from their Academy and age-group systems.

A regular captain with the England U19 side in recent years, he was part of that huge stand of 321 with Bartlett in Nagpur – a new record for any wicket for England which has only been beaten once in all international Under-19 cricket. Holden’s contribution was 170.

What does 2017 hold in store?

He will be available in both the Specsavers Championship and the Royal London One-Day Cup until the end of June, and looks to have secured a middle order spot at Wantage Road – a ground where he made a century for the England U19’s last summer.

He made 19 and 75 not out against Loughborough MCCU on his first-class debut earlier this month, before bagging a duck on his Championship bow against Glamorgan.

 

George Garton (19) – Sussex

A tall left-arm fast bowler, George Garton made major strides in 2016. He started the year playing for England in the U19 World Cup before representing Sussex across all formats and tasting further international honours with the England Lions.

The Brighton-born man made his first-class debut a year ago against Leeds/Bradford MCCU – taking a wicket with his first ball – and went on to play four further Championship fixtures for Sussex taking 10 wickets at 35.20.

He also made an impression in the Royal London and NatWest Blast competitions too. His immediate impact in the short formats for Sussex earned him a shock call up to the England Lions squad for a tri-series also involving the Pakistan and Sri Lanka A sides. Garton played in three of the fixtures, impressing with 4-43 against the Sri Lankans at Canterbury.

His international aspirations were further enhanced when he was selected as part of the England Pace Programme for a two-week training camp in South Africa at the beginning of the year.

What does 2017 hold in store?

With experienced South African Vernon Philander having been brought in as an overseas player, thus joining a fast-bowling arsenal that also includes Ajmal Shahzad, Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer, David Wiese, Ollie Robinson, Stu Whittingham and Steve Magoffin, finding a place in the side for Garton will prove initially difficult for coach Mark Davis.

Having said that, Garton – who turns 20 on April 15th – has impressed bowling coach Jon Lewis aplenty during his time with the club and with his left-arm quick bowling he offers something different to any other bowler at the club with fellow left-armer Tymal Mills now just a T20 specialist.

 

Kiran Carlson (18) – Glamorgan

One of two young Welshmen on this year’s list, Kiran Carlson is part of an exciting crop of youngsters currently on the Glamorgan staff that also includes Owen Morgan, Aneurin Donald, Nick Selman and Lukas Carey (see below).

A right-handed middle-order batsman and handy offspin bowler, Carlson became the youngest player to record a first-class hundred for Glamorgan when he made 119 against eventual champions Essex at Chelmsford aged just 18-years and 119 days.

Despite batting being his primary forte, he originally made his name with the ball. Turning his arm over on a spinning Northampton track he took 5-18 on debut – including the wicket of England batsman Ben Duckett.

Whilst completing his maiden hundred, he became the youngest player in English county first-class cricket to record the double of a five-for and century.

He finished off 2016 with an unbeaten run-a-ball 74 against Leicestershire and, at just 18, he promises to reach further milestones in 2017.

What does 2017 hold in store?

Now a permanent fixture in a young Glamorgan lower middle-order, Carlson will hope his first summer of first-class cricket wasn’t just a flash in the pan.

His season didn’t get off to the best start. Batting at number seven he registered a first-innings duck against Northamptonshire before making 30 in the second dig.

Although he will likely face many ups and downs during his first full season of senior cricket, with the backing of coach Robert Croft he’s likely to be given ample opportunities to find his feet.

 

Kiran Carlson
Glamorgan’s Kiran Carlson became the youngest man to record both a five-for and century in County Championship history. (Photo Credit: Glamorgancricket.com)

 

Lukas Carey (19) – Glamorgan

Like Carlson, 19-year-old Carey is a product of the Glamorgan/Wales Minor County pathways system that has helped produce a clutch of talented players over recent seasons.

Carey, a right-arm medium fast bowler from Pontarddulais, has the potential to become the most exciting bowler to emerge from Wales since James Harris first broke through a decade ago.

He made his mark last August with a fiery Championship debut spell against Northamptonshire in Swansea. Opening the bowling, Carey tore through the visitor’s top order with three wickets in his first six overs. Like Carlson he also claimed Duckett as his maiden first-class victim.

In all he took 13 wickets at 25.38 in three Championship matches last summer to kickstart a promising career.

What does 2017 hold in store?

Carey begun the 2017 County Championship season well when he claimed 4-85 in Glamorgan’s opening defeat at Northamptonshire. He followed that up with 3-85 and 1-13 in his second game against Worcestershire and looks to have established a solid opening partnership with veteran Australian Michael Hogan.

 

Also look out for…

Tom Haines (18) – Sussex, George Panayi (19) – Warwickshire, Harry Brook (18) – Yorkshire, Josh Tongue (19) – Worcestershire

 

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