The English season was due to get under way in Sri Lanka this week with the MCC’s traditional curtain-raising fixture against champion county Essex.
The trip to Galle never took place due to the escalating coronavirus crisis and now all cricket has been suspended until May 28 at the earliest.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the best and brightest prospects who might have been wrestling for their share of the spotlight in the coming weeks.
It is almost five years since Lawrence made his first-class debut but at the age of 22, he is still in the early stages of what promises to be a long and fruitful career. Already a two-time championship winner Lawrence grew further in stature over the winter, reeling off a fine century for England Lions as they defeated Australia A at the MCG. Team-mates are convinced he is on the brink of taking a major step up and is ready to embrace the growing expectations around him. He matched a modest career average of 38 last season – statistics lowered by a tricky home surface at Chelmsford but destined to soar.
Arguably the biggest enigma currently operating in the English game, Hameed has been given the chance to get himself back on track at Trent Bridge. In 2016 he found himself fast-tracked into the Test side in India, averaging 44 in three appearances as he paired a teenager’s exuberance with an old-timer’s technique. A finger injury was only supposed to represent a minor bump in the road but Hameed’s form evaporated to such a drastic degree that he ended up in the second XI at his native Lancashire. Nottinghamshire coach Peter Moores has backed himself to rediscover the diamond in the rough and, if he succeeds, so do England.
Things might not have happened in a hurry for Robinson, who first emerged several years ago as a white-ball specialist at Yorkshire under the guidance of his step-father Paul Farbrace, but the momentum is picking up sharply. On Jason Gillespie’s watch he has become a consistent wicket-taker for Sussex, taking 137 championship scalps in the last two seasons. Division Two players can often find it hard to get the ear of the national selectors but the decision to bring the 26-year-old on the Lions tour of Australia this winter paid dividends as he bagged a match haul of seven for 147 in Melbourne. His next challenge is to prove he has sufficient pace and guile to take the step up and he may need to spearhead a promotion push to do so.
The ECB’s desire to build up their stocks of quick, aggressive bowlers in a bid to reclaim the Ashes Down Under is well known. Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton and Olly Stone have already been handed central development contracts but the search for more will continue and do not be surprised if Carse joins their ranks soon. Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa but qualified via residency and his father’s British passport, the Durham seamer likes to hit the deck hard and has won admiring glances from none other than Ben Stokes.
The specifics of Qadri’s personal story are well known by now – born in Kandahar but relocated to England as a result of the war in Afghanistan, he developed quickly enough to become the first 21st century child in county cricket at the age of just 16. His first-class career spans just 10 matches to date, yielding 23 wickets, but his tricky off-spin is already a cornerstone of the England Under-19 team. With Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid out of the frame, the need for young, talented tweakers is clear and there is a growing belief that Qadri might just skip the queue. A close-season move from Derbyshire to Kent provides a new platform and, perhaps, a springboard for the talented teenager.