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Can Sam Hain be England's next star player?

March 9, 2018

With England currently engaged in a thrilling one-day series in New Zealand, there is no doubt that there are some wonderful big-hitting batsmen around. 

Indeed, were it not for some doubts about the bowling line-up, England would be the hottest of hot favourites for the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Even with some question marks about this element of their game, as hosts there is still a very good chance that Eoin Morgan's men could triumph.

Even so, there will always be competition for places and also the $64 million question: if England's batting can be so good in 50-over cricket, can players seen as white-ball specialists do it in Test matches?

The search for new Test batsmen in the last year has surely unearthed one in Dawid Malan, who made his maiden Test century in the Ashes Test in Perth. Lancashire's uncapped Liam Livingstone may get his chance in the two-match series in New Zealand later this month. 

However, the next star in the making could be a man Warwickshire fans are already familiar with - Sam Hain. 

Hain is currently playing for England A in the West Indies and produced a highly impressive 144 against Antigua, thrashing the ball to all parts while the rest of the team - apart from Nic Gubbins who made 57 - crumbled around him to be 267 all out. 

The performance was no fluke, Warwickshire's director of cricket Ashley Giles told BBC Sport.

Discussing the 22-year-old's performances, he said: "In white-ball cricket terms, you could probably argue that this England call is overdue.

"Look at his record. In T20, he averages 33.16 at a decent strike rate. But, in 50 overs, he's up to 59.54. At his age, that's in the world-class bracket."

If a call-up is delayed, Birmingham Bears fans could be in for some Friday evening treats at Edgbaston in the NatWest T20 Blast. But if he does get in the England team, he might end up playing for the national side in the T20 international at Edgbaston against Australia in June. 

That would be quite a debut for a few reasons. Not only because it would be on his home ground, but because Hain had previously played for Australia under-19s before switching to England. Not that either country can claim allegiance from his birth, as Hain was born in Hong Kong before being raised in Queensland. Indeed, if he plays for England he would be the second Warwickshire man born there to do so, after Dermot Reeve.
 
Moreover, Giles also expects Hain to play Test cricket before too long, describing Hain's approach to solving a technical problem coaches had spotted as "admirable".

He added: "If he carries on the work he's done this winter, I have no doubt he'll fly and have a fantastic career in red-ball cricket.

"That is his final frontier. If he can crack that, I'm a big believer that he'll play red-ball cricket for England within 12 months."

If Giles is right, then this year's England versus India Test at Edgbaston may come a little too soon for Hain. But he could then feature in an Ashes Test at the same ground. Having already been the youngest century and double century maker for Warwickshire, he could be set to create a lot more history in the years ahead.

Image: Dan Mullan/Getty Images from Keith Prowse subscription

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