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Luke Wright, born on March 7, 1985, is a hard-hitting batsman who has made a name for himself in the shorter formats. Nishad Pai Vaidya traces the career of England’s limited-overs expert.
Some players seem to have been born to play T20 cricket. In an earlier era, these men may have made a mark in One-Day Internationals (ODIs), but with the advent of T20 cricket, their talent has been harnessed by numerous teams around the world. The Englishman Luke Wright may not have imagined that he would be branded a T20 expert when he made his ODI debut against India at The Oval in 2007. But, the hard-hitting batsman, useful bowler and good fielder is an ideal mix for the format. You need cricketers like him in your team as they can be true game-changers.
Born on March 7, 1985 in Lincolnshire, Wright’s potential was evident at a very young age. Consider this: he made his second XI debut at the age of 16 in 2001. The same year, he made his List A debut as well while playing for the Leicestershire Cricket Board. While he continued playing second XIs, he also was a part of the England Under-19 side in 2003 and also represented them at the World Cup in Bangladesh in 2004. Some of his teammates included Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Steve Davies, Samit Patel and Tim Bresnan. In 2003, he also made his First-Class debut for Leicestershire, scoring zero and 11.
It is quite interesting to note that he had made his First-Class debut against Sussex in 2003, and in fact moved there the next year. Wright played a few second XI games and in his first game for the senior side, against Loughborough University, he scored a ton to prove his credentials. In the years to come, he was in and out of the Sussex side, although he did feature quite regularly in their limited overs side. He even toured West Indies with England A in early 2006.
The season that changed his life was 2007. In First-Class cricket he averaged nearly 50, but in the T20 tournament, he scored 346 runs in nine matches which included a ton. As a result, he was named in England’s squad for the ICC World T20 2007. And, at the back of those solid performances, he was also called up to the one-day side. England handed him his maiden cap in the sixth ODI against India at The Oval in September. Coming in at 137 for five in the 31st over, he scored a brisk 50 and along with Owais Shah, helped England score over 300.
Although Wright did not quite fulfill his potential in the World T20, he was earmarked by the England management. In ODIs, he continued to impress with a few brisk knocks and useful spells with his medium-pace. He even played for the England Lions in 2008 in New Zealand. All that, and a successful season in county cricket in 2009, paced the way for his selection into the Test side during the tour to South Africa in late 2009. In the 2009 season, he scored 637 runs in 10 matches at an average of 49.00. He did have a decent season in 2010 as well, but by then, England had built a solid Test unit and there was no space for Wright.
Meanwhile, in one-day cricket, he continued to be a fixture. There were times when he had to warm the bench and wasn’t quite consistent. For example, during the ICC World Cup 2011, he sat out for a major part of the tournament and came back during the last league game against West Indies, scoring a crucial 44. After that tournament, he lost his ODI spot and only regained it two years later.
In T20 Internationals, he continued to be in England’s plans. At the ICC World T20 2012, he scored 99 not out against Afghanistan and 76 against New Zealand, which made him one of England’s best batsmen at the tournament.
Meanwhile, Wright’s talent took him to different parts of the world. In the Indian Premier League (IPL), he played for the Pune Warriors India for two seasons. At the Big Bash League (BBL), he was a success for the Melbourne Stars, scoring a century for them in 2012, smashing nine sixes along the way. Then, he has also played for the Dhaka Gladiators in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). They key to his success has often been good time in the middle, which he didn’t usually get with England in one-day cricket as he batted lower down the order.
Nevertheless, he has now returned to the England setup now and with England trying to build a future in one-day cricket under Ashley Giles, Wright could find a spot in the long-run. England should utilize his potential for the shorter formats. So far, at the time of writing, he has played 50 ODIs and 50 T20 Internationals.
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