Star Joe Clarke named England contender

By Nick Elwell | Cricket | Published:

Joe Clarke is part of a trio of young batsmen identified by England head coach Trevor Bayliss as a potential contender to break into the senior squad.

Joe Clarke, Jack Shantry, Joe Leach and Ed Barnard (Photo: Tony Marsh)

Worcestershire batsman Clarke, Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone and Essex’s Dan Lawrence has been named by Bayliss.

He says it is important for up and coming talent to be “given a chance sooner rather than later.”

Clarke made his first senior appearance in England colours last month and scored 45 in a two-day friendly with a Cricket Australia X1 in Perth.

He has been named in the England Lions squad for the tour of the West Indies next month but a full squad for the tour of New Zealand is also to be announced shortly.

Bayliss said: “There’s been some chat over the past few series about how we can start getting in some of those younger players.

Pace duo Pennington and Finch have flown out with the squad to New Zealand to prepare for the prestigious event that Barnard and County team-mate Joe Clarke tasted four years ago in Dubai.

They helped England reach the semi-finals before losing to Pakistan and it was only a few short months later that the talented pair progressed into the senior side at Blackfinch New Road – and have been there ever since.

Many of the squad have also become first teamers at county level including Ben Duckett, Dominic Sibley, Will Rhodes, Matthew Fisher and Luke Wood.


Now Pennington – a team-mate of Barnard at Shrewsbury CC – and Finch have the opportunity to show their potential against the cream of world talent in their age group.

Barnard said: “Anytime you get picked for your country is brilliant but especially for them, to go and test themselves against the best in the world at their age, will be fantastic experience for them.

“Having played in it alongside Clarkey, we came out of it the other side much better players, and much more rounded players having played against the different cultures of cricket.

“It was a big stepping stone for us, those months we had with the Under-19s.


“It helped us develop as players and helped us to progress from that into the first team at Worcestershire.

“It was a brilliant experience and the fact we did so well helped us all to bond as players.

“We are still close to who we played with in that team. We spent a lot of to time together and it was such a brilliant team to be part of.”

Barnard says the selection of Pennington and Finch further highlights the strength of the Worcestershire Academy.

He said: “It shows the depth we’ve got in our Academy that we’ve got two players in there and we’ve got others that have been in or around there the last couple of years.

“They are both high quality players. I’ve seen a lot of Dillon the last couple of years, having played at Shrewsbury with him, and they are both exciting prospects.

“It is testament to Elliot (Wilson) and the work they are doing with Academy.

“Once they are getting onto it, they are really seeing the progress and a lot of them are shooting through the roof.

“They are going from decent players to very good players in no time at all.

“I had a net with Dillon just a few days before he went and he was really excited and I’m sure Finchy is feeling just the same.”

“We’ve seen Craig Overton and Tom Curran make their debuts on this (Ashes) tour and possibly Mason Crane as well.

“From a batting point of view, we want to see some of the younger guys in England pushing a little harder to get in.

“Livingstone, Lawrence and Clarke have all been mentioned in the past six months or so as being the next guys coming through.

“We need an opportunity to put them in. Is this the opportunity? And we have to ask if the guys here in the Ashes squad have done enough to warrant further selection.

“You want to see young guys putting pressure on. It’s important for the team’s success over the long term that they are given a chance sooner rather than later.”

Josh Tongue has been ruled out of the England Lions winter tour of the West Indies through injury.

The Worcestershire paceman aggravated an ankle problem during the pre-Christmas Lions training camp in Australia.

He is to see a consultant next Wednesday about the setback.

Tongue had been selected for the four-day section on the trip to the Caribbean and will be replaced by Somerset off spinner Dominic Bess.

His County colleague Joe Clarke remains a part of the squad.

The Lions will hold a training camp at the Desert Springs Resort in Spain from January 20-25 ahead of their departure on January 31 for Jamaica.

There they will play a three-day warm-up match at Sabina Park ahead of four-day matches at Trelawny and Sabina Park, before switching to Antigua for the third four-day match against West Indies A followed by the one-day series.

Nick Elwell

By Nick Elwell
Grassroots Sports Editor


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