Six rounds into the 2021 County Championship, we take a look at how the young up-and-comers have fared so far this season.
Here’s an XI of players who have impressed in the last month and a half, with all of them aged 24 or under when the season kicked off on April 8.
Haseeb Hameed – Nottinghamshire
5 matches, 450 runs @ 56.25
Only Jake Libby has faced more balls so far this season, with Hameed beginning to regain the touch that took him into Test cricket as a teenager. His most notable performance came against Worcestershire at New Road, where he hit two tons in one County Championship match for the second time in his career.
Ricardo Vasconcelos – Northamptonshire
5 matches, 493 runs @ 70.42
The 23-year-old left-hander has turned his hundreds into big ones – a season-opening 154 against Kent was followed a few weeks later by a very special unbeaten 185 against Glamorgan. The latter saw Northants home in a chase of 355, with Vasconcelos motoring away at a strike rate above 80.
James Bracey (wk) – Gloucestershire
5 matches, 478 runs @ 53.11 | 18 dismissals
Bracey’s runs have been key in Gloucestershire’s excellent start to the season – they lead Group Two with four wins and one draw. Widely expected to be in England’s squad to face New Zealand next month, Bracey has passed fifty in all but one of his appearances for far this season.
Ollie Pope – Surrey
6 matches, 518 runs @ 64.75
Pope has mainly made hay at The Oval, where he now averages 105.61 in first-class cricket after 16 innings. His last two knocks at the ground have included a serene 245 against Leicestershire and a 131 against Hampshire in a comprehensive innings victory.
Dan Lawrence – Essex
6 matches, 481 runs @ 60.12
After three half-centuries, Lawrence finally brought up three figures this season last week in a thrill-seeking knock against Derbyshire. In moving from 129 to 151, England’s newest batting star took up just four deliveries, depositing Matt Critchley for three consecutive sixes.
Kiran Carlson – Glamorgan
6 matches, 552 runs @ 69
Carlson is currently the second-highest run-scorer in the County Championship and celebrated his 23rd birthday with an unbeaten 88 against Yorkshire last week. Since making his first-team debut in 2016, Carlson has never hit 600 first-class runs in a season – a landmark now close by – while he averaged 14 with the bat in last year’s Bob Willis Trophy. This year has been quite the turnaround.
Matt Critchley – Derbyshire
5 matches, 512 runs @ 51.20 | 16 wickets @ 36.18
After starting the season with a bang – five fifty-plus scores and 13 wickets in his first three matches – Critchley has had less fortune with bat and ball in recent weeks. Nonetheless, the leg-spinning all-rounder still merits a spot, with only five men having made more County Championship runs than him so far this season.
Jack Carson – Sussex
6 matches, 21 wickets @ 23.09
A 20-year-old off-spinner who has made a truly excellent start to his first-class career – since the start of the Bob Willis Trophy, Carson has taken 36 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 22.91. A five-wicket haul against Yorkshire included the major scalps of Gary Ballance and Joe Root, while Simon Harmer is the only spinner to have taken more wickets this season.
Ethan Bamber – Middlesex
5 matches, 21 wickets @ 23.09
Bamber has been Middlesex’s bright spot in a difficult season, establishing himself as a reliable force with the new ball. A right-arm seamer who thrives on accuracy, Bamber has looked as good as the elder statesman running in from the other end, Tim Murtagh.
Sam Cook – Essex
5 matches, 21 wickets @ 19
Cook has been Essex’s standout seamer – by a distance. While Jamie Porter and Peter Siddle have both averaged more than 50 with the ball, Cook has consistently been among the wickets, taking at least three in an innings on five occasions.
Matt Parkinson – Lancashire
4 matches, 19 wickets @ 19.21
Parkinson has ripped his way to plenty of wickets – and views on social media too, courtesy of some magical deliveries to Adam Rossington and Delray Rawlins. Only once has Parkinson taken 20 first-class wickets in a season, so he’s sure to break new ground this year.
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