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Livingstone & Crane In The Frame

James Whitaker always makes me laugh. He can’t just say “we’ve got some good young players coming through”. Instead he has to dress everything up in corporate language, as if he’s the CEO of PWC.

The T20 series against South Africa presents us with an opportunity to incorporate several players who have come through the talent pathway into the senior group.

I can only guess why the ECB’s suits do this. Is it because they’re worried everyone thinks they’re on a jolly, so they try to make everything sound like it’s deadly serious corporate business?

Come on guys, everyone knows you’ve got the best job in the world. Let’s not pretend that our free-spirited cricketers are akin to the latest bunch of auditors graduating KPMG’s ACA trainee programme. It sounds like a load of B.O.L.L.O.C.K.S to people in the real world.

Anyway I digress. I’ve taken half an hour out of my incredibly busy working day – I’ve had a lot on at the moment so please forgive my lack out TFT output in recent days – to bring you news of England’s recently announced T20 squad.

Because the likes of Root, Stokes and Mooen are going to play some championship ahead of the test series – although it doesn’t look like Jos Buttler will – the selectors have chosen some interesting new faces. These include Liam Livingstone, who is possibly the most naturally talented young batsman in the county game, and Mason Crane, Hampshire’s reserve spinner.

Of course I’m being a little facetious in calling Crane a reserve. He’s a far better bowler than Liam Dawson and his ceiling is five times as high. I’m actually quite excited to see what he can do.

The hype surrounding Crane rocketed up when he was plucked from grade cricket to represent New South Wales this winter. This was a big deal because Australian domestic teams are usually reluctant to pick overseas players. In fact, the last overseas player to represent NSW before Crane was Imran Khan – the one with a hotel bed that occasionally resembled a huge Pakistani marquee.

Although Jack Leach seems to get more headlines (probably because he plays more first class cricket in England) there’s no doubt that Crane could be England’s next quality international spinner. It’s still early days of course, and obviously we’ve been here before with other young leg-spinners, but something tells me that Crane might amount to something more than Chris Schofield and Ian Salisbury. We shall see.

The other interesting names in the squad are Tom Curran and Dawid ‘don’t call be David’ Malan. Both these players have been around the England white ball squads before and could get a chance to impress.

Tom Curran probably isn’t as flashy as his brother Sam but he’s probably considered a safer bet at this stage. Meanwhile Malan seems to have been on the cusp of international selection for ages.

To be honest I can’t quite make my mind up about Malan. Sometimes I think he looks like a top quality player who could slip into international cricket quite seamlessly. But on other occasions I’ve seen him make batting look a real struggle. I guess we all have good days and bad days.

What do you make of the England squad? And do you reckon we’ll win the Champions Trophy? It’s looking pretty good thus far. Surely an England versus India final is on the cards?

T20 Squad: Eoin Morgan (capt), Jonny Bairstow (first two matches of series), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton (last two matches of series), Liam Plunkett, Jason Roy, David Willey, Mark Wood (first match of series)

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Livingstone & Crane In The Frame


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