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Mark Butcher
Cricket Columnist

Big Bash League: Luke Wright hitting his way into England's World Cup thinking

Sussex striker must be in future ODI mix with Hales, Kieswetter, Lumb...

Luke Wright's Big Bash exploits are enhancing his chances of a return to England's 50-over side, says Mark Butcher.

Wright (262 runs from seven innings at 37.42) is now the joint-leading run-scorer in the competition with Australian Aaron Finch after boosting his tournament total with 52 from 36 balls in Melbourne Stars' five-wicket victory over Hobart Hurricanes.

The 28-year-old, who also caught a screamer at backward point to dismiss the dangerous Ben Dunk (30), made the most recent of his 48 ODI appearances against Australia in September but averages just 21.39 in his 37 England innings and was only selected in the Twenty20 squad for the current tour Down Under.


"Luke Wright played brilliantly," said former England batsman Butcher after the opener's five fours and two sixes had paved the way for the Stars' victory.

"This will increase the volume from his cheerleaders asking why he's not playing more international cricket for England, particularly if he finishes as leading run-scorer in the Big Bash.

"We will see him, of course, in the T20 series at the back end of this tour and good luck to him, because he looks in fantastic touch.

"There were some fantastic strikes, which are becoming synonymous with him; he gets a really solid base to hit the ball from and if you bowl the ball in his area, which tends to be roundabout off-stump and wider, he gives it a fearful thrash away to the boundary.

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"One of the things that was slightly different today was that he didn't have the back-up at the other end, which meant that he was off-strike a little bit so it felt as if he was going along slowly. But every time that he was on strike the game was moving forward.

"It was a mature knock because by the time that he was nailed by a Ben Laughlin yorker the game was pretty much done and as long as David Hussey was at the other end they were always going to get home."


England, already 3-0 down in their five-match ODI series with Australia, have come under fire for a series of slow starts in their innings.

Sky Sports pundit David Lloyd criticised the top-order's timid approach after the tourists scored only 28-2 off the first 10 overs and 24-1 in the second powerplay and despite a more urgent approach from skipper Alastair Cook (35 off 36) and Ian Bell (29 off 35) in the third ODI, which England lost by seven wickets, he insisted that England are living in the past.

Butcher agrees that with the 2015 World Cup a little over a year away, it's time for England to re-assess their style of play - and he says Wright may be part of the solution.

"Regardless of what happens in the last two one-day internationals, England are once again going to have to re-evaluate their tactics in terms of 50-over cricket," said the former Surrey skipper.

"When the two new white balls came in, England went very much back to a Test match-style opening partnership - which in certain conditions, like England in May and June, you would say is a decent tactic.

"But I'm afraid what's been shown up in the one-day cricket we've seen from around the world - both in India recently and more importantly from Australia - is that the two white balls don't move around anymore; they are just harder for longer to be hit further and faster.

"So when you are talking about players who might be able to go in and get England off to better and faster starts Luke Wright is definitely up there, as is somebody like Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb.

"These are players who play in a slightly more dynamic way at the top of the order, who will certainly be putting their hat in the ring because you can't tell me that England are happy with the way they are at the moment this close to the 50-over World Cup."

Watch New Zealand take on India in the second ODI from 12.55am on Sky Sports 1, then join us for more Big Bash action as the Adelaide Strikers take on the Melbourne Renegades from 8.30am on Sky Sports 2.

England's one-day series against Australia continues on Friday - watch live coverage of the fourth ODI from 3am on Sky Sports 2.