Friday, 16 February 2018
Critchley Lions call well-deserved
I am pleased that I have been present at the two innings that in time to come will go down as the genesis of a talented young man's career. Firstly, with his century at Derby against Northamptonshire, in only his second first-class match, which marked him as a young player who could do more than hold an end up in a plucky tail end resistance. My guess is that he will start this season at six in a Derbyshire batting line up that is a nice mixture of relative youth and considerable experience.
Then, last year at Belper (and after I had suggested as much on this blog) we saw him elevated to open the innings in T20 matches for the second team against Durham. He didn't set the world on fire, but there was sufficient promise in his clean hitting of the bowlers to warrant an elevation to the senior side in the format. There he did well, giving the side the pinch hitter that we needed, but far more than that. This was not a slogger, but a lad who can clearly bat, with considerable potential to get the ball through and over the field.
After eighteen first-class games he already has a batting average north of thirty. His task for the summer ahead is to take that to over 35 and produce more of the punishing displays of which we now know he is capable. Similarly, he needs to turn the limited overs breezy twenties and thirties into something more substantial, on a regular basis. Last year was one of encouragement and he needs to return from his fine winter in Australia to maintain that.
His bowling has proved very useful in the shorter formats, but a first-class average in excess of three figures shows there is still much to be done to get players out when they don't have to slog him. Yet at 21, time is something he has on his side.
Perhaps, like Kim Barnett, his bowling will become something that is brought out only on special occasions as his batting develops, but there is enough about that bowling for him to continue to work. There is a good loop and, crucially, a niche in the national side for a player who can contribute in all areas.
He's a good cricketer, and I look forward to watching him become even better over the years ahead.