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Is Joe Clarke on his way to becoming the next James Hildreth?

by Wisden Staff 2-minute read

On the latest episode of the Wisden Cricket Weekly podcast, host and Wisden.com managing editor Ben Gardner was joined by Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine editor Jo Harman and editor-in-chief Phil Walker.

After discussions surrounding the Indian Premier League and Australia women’s recent form, the trio talked about how to manage a talented young batsman in county cricket, highlighting Notts batsman Joe Clarke‘s current situation. Clarke is named as one of the 12 best young batsmen in the country as part of a cover feature in the upcoming issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly.

The 24-year-old made his first-class debut as a 19-year-old in 2015 and has since scored 4,849 runs in 80 matches, amassing 17 hundreds and 16 half-centuries. But with no England call-up to talk of yet, Walker wondered whether Clarke is going down the James Hildreth way. The 36-year-old Hildreth has over 17,000 first-class runs and 46 centuries but has never played international cricket.

PW: There’s a good example of the danger of letting a cricketer stew in county cricket… that’s harsh, I don’t mean that. But you can become almost indoctrinated into county cricket, and the treadmill can take its toll. And one of the people in our 12 young batsmen is Joe Clarke. Now, Joe Clarke is 24 years old. Started at Worcestershire, moved to Notts at the start of 2019 season. Pulled up a lot of trees beforehand, made six hundreds in 2016 in his first full season. He’s played England U19s, he has played a lot of England Lions stuff, yet to get the nod and there’s been some other stuff, as we know, that has halted his progression. But he’s the kind of cricketer that you slightly fear for because he is a very ambitious young player. There was always a pre-ordained sense that he was going to crack it. Not happened yet.

[At] 24, time rushes on, good young players come through. When he was beginning, Zak Crawley was still a teenager. This is the nature of the beast. Joe Clarke, at 19-20, was a stick on to play for England. Suddenly he is 24, he’s had one or two setbacks, one or two mistakes along the way. Suddenly, you’re looking at him and wondering if it’s the James Hildreth’s size 12s he might be slipping into. I might be completely wrong on Clarke. He might tear it up from the start of next year and he is right back in the conversation, but time does rush on.

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