Essex all-rounder and big hitting Twenty20 man Graham Napier has revealed that he is determined to force his way into the England reckoning next season. Of course, it is any players’ dream to play for their country, but with regards to Napier – it is a dream that will be very difficult to for fill, writes Thomas Rooney, exclusively for The Village Cricketer.

There is no doubt at all that he had a fantastic season for Essex last time around. The way in which he dominated the Sussex bowling attack in THAT Twenty20 innings of 152-not-out was quite remarkable. Napier hit a record breaking 16 sixes and literally played the innings of his life. It was an innings that meant he started to get recognised on the streets and an innings that made him feared by opposition bowlers.

However, as much as I would like to think that it was an innings that can act as a springboard for the rest of his career – I am more inclined to believe that it will be the undoubted highlight of his career and one that will never be topped by an England call-up. Let’s face it, had it not been for this innings – Napier wouldn’t even have been interviewed about his season let alone be voicing England ambitions.

It is worth a look at how the rest of his season panned out though. Napier took 57 wickets and scored 653 runs for an Essex side that secured victory in the Friends Provident Trophy and Division Two of the Pro40 Championship. There is no doubt he has had arguably the season of his life. Something I did notice about him when I got to chance to watch him in action at Chelmsford was how much pace he had. He really put it through and was a genuine threat with the new ball. This, combined with the big hitting he is capable of, should act as a winning formula for an England player.

However, even the player himself admits that it will be difficult for him to break into the England team. The 28-year-old says that the England selectors are picking a ‘consistent team’ right now and there aren’t too many gaps for him to work his way into.

There is no doubt in my mind that if Napier is to get into the England side at any stage – it is more than likely to be at Twenty20 level. If I was to place a cricket bet on him playing for England, it would be as part of the Twenty20 team. That’s where his unique and sometimes inconsistent big-hitting would be most at home.

I would expect Napier to continue to excel at Essex though. They are an excellent one-day side and he is an integral part of this. It seems extremely unlikely that he can perform the heroics that he did against Sussex again, but he can continue to improve as a cricketer. Who knows, should he show more consistency next season, he could go against all cricket odds and earn an England call up.

Whether he does or not though, Graham Napier can be very pleased about where he has come. At the beginning of last season he was struggling to get in the Essex side and at the beginning of next season he will be looking to continue his excellent form to impress the England selectors. As much as I think this is a little unrealistic – all the best to him.

Advertisements