You hear a lot of retired players talk about the opportunities that current younger players have compared with their day. For them if you weren’t an England regular but just an honest county pro then in the winter months in order to provide and put food on the table you had to get a second job.
I recently heard the great Jonathan Agnew talk about the type of work he had to do whilst at Leicestershire during the close season. Compare that with how today’s players such as Hales or Jordan spend their winter’s.
So the young cricketers of today probably aren’t aware their born considering the amount of choice they have with what league to play in or what sponsorship deal to sign up to.
There’s no such thing however as too much choice is there?
Well Tom Banton is currently at the centre of a minor cricketing storm with his decision to play IPL cricket in April and May rather than County Cricket back in England. The deal with the Kolkata Knight Riders is set to be £100,000, but more importantly for Banton an opportunity to play some high level and high intensity cricket under Brendon McCullum.
All this sounds very enticing and a positive move in the development of Banton as an international cricketer, so why has Michael Vaughan come out and said he should play red ball cricket for Somerset?
Well with England’s test team completely focused on the next tour down under in two years they may feel that Banton at six will be a key cog. Darren Lehmann who worked with Banton at the Big Bash said he was one of the best players he’s ever worked with, that’s quite a statement when you think of the calibre of player Lehmann has worked with in the past.
With that in mind England probably should look to get Banton in sooner rather than later, even if it’s just for a couple of tests to give him a flavour of what it’s all about. That strategy certainly looks to have done Pope no harm.
His basing at the minute in red ball cricket isn’t the strongest though with a first class average of just under 28. Vaughan may have a point then, that should be higher and by going to the IPL he’s limiting his opportunities to work on it throughout the summer. A similar type of player in Liam Livingstone at Lancashire has taken the decision to play in the championship as he sees it as his best chance of playing test cricket. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and who gets their first.
So having choices and freedom as a young player is great if you have time but England and Banton may not have that before the Ashes. Only Banton will really know what he wants to do and how best to get their but one thing is for sure, he’s a special talent.
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