Sam Moakes picks out an XI of standout performers in the 2022 County Championship so far, all of whom are aged 23 or under.
As the County Championship takes a break, we’ve taken a look at the young performers who shone during April and May. From quick-scoring batters to metronomic seamers, this XI of youngsters have impressed at the halfway stage of the competition.
To qualify for consideration for this team, you have to be aged 23 or under as of the end of the most recent round of fixtures.
Ali Orr – Sussex
317 runs @ 35.22, 3 half-centuries
The 21-year-old left-hander has had an impressive campaign in Division Two so far, making three centuries at the top of the order. Part of Sussex’s youthful revival, Orr signed a multi-year contract extension with the club in October. The opener is something of a throwback – no batter has more runs at a lower strike-rate – and has built successfully on his maiden campaign last year. He’s yet to make three figures this year, however, finishing on 99 in his penultimate outing against Middlesex.
Tom Haines – Sussex
514 runs @ 51.40, 1 hundred, 3 half-centuries
Another off the Sussex production line, Tom Haines has continued his great form from last year. The 23-year-old is the youngest captain in the Championship but showed his maturity with a mammoth innings of 243 against Derbyshire in April, the highest score in the competition so far. He’s failed to make a ton since, but two recent half-centuries have maintained stability in the Sussex top order.
Jack Haynes – Worcestershire
526 runs @ 65.75, 3 hundreds
Up until the beginning of May, Jack Haynes was yet to make a hundred in 22 first-class appearances. He has since scored three tons in three consecutive appearances, confirming himself as a player to keep an eye on. One knock in particular stands out: a 281-run partnership with Azhar Ali en route to an innings victory against Leicestershire.
Harry Brook – Yorkshire
840 runs @ 140.00, 3 hundreds, 5 half-centuries
Harry Brook has been in the England conversation for a while, earning a T20I debut over the winter, and his record in the County Championship this year is nothing short of ridiculous. The 23-year-old has only failed to pass fifty on one occasion for Yorkshire, and even then he made 41, against a Lancashire attack featuring James Anderson, Hassan Ali and Matt Parkinson. His quick-scoring ability in the middle-order has earned him a maiden Test call-up for the upcoming series against New Zealand.
Jamie Smith – Surrey
258 runs @ 129.00, 1 hundred
While he may have only played three matches so far, Jamie Smith showed his enviable temperament with an innings of 234* against Gloucestershire. Smith batted for more than 10 hours and faced 430 balls in the marathon innings,steering his side to 603, having walked to the crease at 37-3. Injury has kept Smith out of subsequent fixtures, but three tons in his last six first-class innings has marked him out as an exciting talent..
Sam Curran – Surrey
328 runs @ 66.39 , 4 half-centuries; 0 wickets
A maiden first-class hundred still evades Sam Curran, but the left-hander has been in good touch with the bat this year. Returning from a stress fracture that kept him out of the Ashes, Curran has made four half-centuries in five innings, including an important 80 against Somerset. Workload management has limited him to 17 overs so far, with some of those coming in the form of left-arm spin.
Ollie Robinson – Kent (wk)
301 runs @ 37.62, 3 half-centuries; 15 dismissals
With Kent struggling this year, wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson has been one bright spark. The 23-year-old has claimed 14 catches and a stumping, while three fifties have left his batting average touching 38. His efforts in shepherding the tail against Surrey, while scoring 71 himself, helped to ensure Kent earned a draw against the Division One leaders.
Matty Potts – Durham
35 wickets @ 18.57, 4 five-fors
As the highest wicket-taker across the County Championship, it’s no wonder Matty Potts has received an England call-up. The 23-year-old has consistently taken wickets even as others have struggled this year, extracting the most out of flat pitches across the country. With four five-fors, including a ten-wicket match in his last outing, Potts has taken five more wickets than the next most prolific bowler. The youngster sat out Durham’s last fixture, having bowled 233.5 overs already this year.
Liam Patterson-White – Notts
21 wickets @ 23.71, 2 five-fors; 106 runs @ 15.14
After averaging in the low 30s with both bat and ball last year, the left-arm spinner has reached another level this season. He started the campaign in fine fashion, taking eight wickets in Notts’ first match against Sussex and ten in the following two fixtures. While adding to that tally has proved tricky on unhelpful pitches, only Matt Parkinson has taken more wickets at a lower economy rate than Patterson-White across both tiers so far.
Ethan Bamber – Middlesex
14 wickets @ 40.57
Ethan Bamber’s numbers don’t leap off the page, but he has formed part of a Middlesex attack that has driven their side to top spot in Division Two at this stage. The 23-year-old’s most important intervention came against Durham, with final-day figures of 3-18 in 15 overs setting up a six-wicket win.
Dillon Pennington – Worcestershire
13 wickets @ 20.23
Dillon Pennington’s imposing frame makes him a tough bowler to hit, as evidenced by his average just a tick over 20. A hamstring injury has kept the right-arm seamer to just four appearances for Worcestershire, but that hasn’t stopped him racking up 13 wickets, including match figures of 5-63 in his last contest.