Today, we welcome new contributor and Surrey regular Devon Nostrand to TFT. He gives us the inside track on Will Jacks, whose inclusion in England’s Test squad for Pakistan surprised a few…
The upcoming tour to Pakistan has many an England fan brimming with excitement. Fresh off the most successful Test summer in almost 20 years, as well as Morgan’s Men (albeit with Eoin himself commentating on the game rather than playing in it) finally securing the World T20, belief is high amongst English cricket fans. The squad announced over a month ago had a few surprises, namely Liam Livingstone’s inclusion after an interesting run of form in the county championship. But my attention was firmly on the maiden inclusion for England’s next all format superstar, Will Jacks.
I’ll be the first to say I saw this coming. Having spent most of my summer at The Oval, I saw before my eyes the transformation of Jacks from explosive white ball hitter to the kind of dynamic batting all-rounder that County Championship winning sides are built on. I told anyone who would listen that he would be on the plane to Pakistan, and now it his time to show the world what he can do.
Jacks’s red ball rise has been somewhat of a surprise to some, who pigeonholed him exclusively as Surreys white ball future following eyewatering innings such as his hundred off just 25 balls against Lancashire in a 2019 warm up game. However, in an era of T20 dominance where players are ‘guns for hire’, it has been refreshing to see a player that could have turned solely to white ball cricket, share the enthusiasm for the red ball game that so many of us fans do.
No, Jacks was different. He went into 2022 determined to secure his spot in that Surrey XI and he did just that. Assured performance after assured performance saw him mature into a player that could make big, match winning contributions. The culmination of this was the most destructive Championship hundred I’ve ever seen, against red ball power Essex no less…
Jacks started by sucking up the pressure, showing the formidable nature of his technique and a newfound determination to occupy the crease when his team, slipping to 112/7, needed him most. He guided Surrey from that perilous position before seizing the day and destroying Critchley as well as cricket Twitter’s favourite son, Simon Harmer. The latter was launched for 5 sixes including three in a row, as Jacks moved from 100 to 150* in just 14 balls. The innings had it all. It was no one off, either. Jacks was ever so consistent last summer, racking up 297 runs between the start of May and the end of July without losing his wicket at The Oval in a red ball fixture. He had earned every fibre of the county cap he received the next day.
Aside from his batting, Jacks’s work with the ball was also significant. Though his numbers will not blow you away, on flat wickets he was an invaluable spin option that took the pressure off an otherwise all seam attack. He recorded his best ever figures with the ball this season, and he continues to go from strength to strength whether it’s opening the bowling in The Blast, or keeping it tight in the Championship. This is what England see in him: a complete batsman, averaging 54 last season, able to pounce on bowling attacks when the time is right, and a bowler who can contain on flat wickets.
Consequently, Jacks has the tools to take some of the pressure off England’s injury prone and depleted pace attack. What’s more, he is a marvellous slip and outfielder, skills even more significant on dead pitches where every chance must be taken in the quest for 20 wickets. Catches win matches, after all. These factors made him a must-have for the tour, and I sincerely hope he makes his debut.
England will want their seamers to do most of the damage, working in conjunction with Jack Leach. But with the prospect of 500 plays 500 on first innings, bowlers like Jacks who can chip in alongside Joe Root could be key. Furthermore, Jacks is the answer to the batting-with-the-tail skills gap present in the current England XI. Ben Foakes rightly has a firm hold on the keeping spot, but he lacks the ability to be explosive down the order when batting with the bowlers. That is where Jacks could be quintessential. He’s earned the right, put in the red ball yards, and deserves the chance to show the world what he can do on the largest stage.
Surrey are blessed with a number of rock and roll young cricketers. Ollie Pope and Sam Curran are the household names, and Will Jacks could be of that significance shortly.
He’s got an advantage straight away being a Surrey man. Can’t think he’s be so high profile if he played for Leicestershire. I know you’re probably fed up with this viewpoint, but it’s born out of years of frustration watching Midlands county players passed over as fringe contenders in favour of north and south.
Well, there is a player who’s played his entire career for Leics who’s currently more in the news than Jacks and is being bigged up something chronic by the England management…
Agree with Ian here, not fair to criticise a potential Surrey bias when we have just won the Championship and have very recently produced perhaps Englands best white ball and red ball young talents in Pope and Curran.
It’s very fair. Over the years Surrey and Middlesex players have been persevered with to far greater degree than players from other counties, the Currans being a case in point. It’s not just about now there’s a long and well documented history of it.
I’m always a little bit sceptical of these kinds of claims–largely because people from every part of the country seem to think that theirs is uniquely prejudiced against. I wonder about this one too, partly because the only concrete example you give is the Currans, with whom it seems you’re a mite obsessed.
Who are your other examples of this long and well-documented history–and who are the people they displaced by being overly favoured?
I’m also unclear of the parameters of your complaint. In your first post it’s all twelve counties which are not from the Midlands–including a couple which provide England players once in a blue moon and another couple who seem routinely underrepresented given how well they do in the Championship; in the second it’s only Middlesex and Surrey. Are you talking about the present and/or about a situation years or decades ago? Because it certainly doesn’t apply to Middlesex now (are you really saying that Roland-Jones has been indulged by the selectors compared to, say, Woakes?), and as far as I can see hasn’t since the last century.
Look at player test history and how many caps have been awarded to ordinary players. Then link them to counties.
That’s too subjective to really mean anything. As I asked before, who were YOU thinking of–both the displaced and the displacers?
Sitting out that shipwreck of an ODI series won’t have done him any harm.
Barely 10,000 turned out for that last game – the international game is sinking fast.
Agree strongly, wasn’t keen on Englands approach to that series at all. Every time you put on that England shirt you should be fully motivated, not going into it half hearted due to discontent with the scheduling. Some players like Vince even went on to play T10 days later! Furthermore Australia have previously had very short turnarounds following an ashes series and given 100%. It all left a very bad taste in my mouth.
It may also be that we’ve over-estimated our strength in depth.
“I wouldn’t have accepted the invite to be chair – and [Gould] certainly wouldn’t have entered the process for chief executive – without seeing the value of the Hundred.”
THere goes any vague hope his former boss will scrap the 16.66.
He is a decent prospect but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Livingstone seems more likely to start against pakistan probably batting at 6. It seems unlikely he will become first choice in the white ball stuff until moeen retires.
Hope not, having watched Jacks all season he’s far better than Livingstone in red ball and probably white ball. Not sure why people think Livingstone is a red ball prospect anyway.
Isn’t that rather comparing apples and oranges? Jacks had a generally good red-ball season in a so-far rather ho-hum f-c career; Livingstone had a terrible season in a largely good f-c career. His batting average is still three runs lower, his bowling average 17 runs more and he scores centuries half as often as Livingstone–at this point. Livingstone’s a prospect partly because he’s shown he can bat well in all formats–he was head and shoulders above anyone else on his last full Lions tour, and he did well in the only red-ball game he’d previously played for England–albeit both some time ago.
But I’m not at all convinced he’s ahead of Jacks for the first test–Jacks is in much better form and did better in the warm-up with both bat and ball. I also very much hope that they don’t wait for Moeen to retire to pick Jacks in the white-ball side: judging from recent times, he’s already a better prospect both for the ODI WC in India and the next WT20.
Livingstone going back to say 2018 was a test prospect, but since then he’s chosen a different path and has hardly turned out for Lancashire. He’s not in great nick in the white ball stuff either, thus I wouldn’t have him near my XI. In terms of Moeen, I fully agree with you. Why Ali, a batsman, walks into the side when his last international century was 5 years ago, I do not know.
Why should Jacks be behind Livingstone in the pecking order? His numbers are significantly better in recent red ball cricket
Surrey has actually got the best, or one of the best, systems of all Counties by bringing home grown talent through its exceptional player development system. This perceived nonsense that it is somehow “prefered” to other counties largely stems through jealousy that it is the best run county club in the UK, and a general London bias that seems to apply to most things these days.
Restorative hug for poor little prejudiced-against London…:-)
Fully agree. The resentment aimed at Surrey in particular is so unwarranted, I think Bumble even described the club as “Man City”. Hilarious when you consider so many of Surreys players come through the academy. There is an envy surrounding the amount of money they have at their disposal, but Surrey shouldn’t be criticised for being in a strong financial position because of good business decisions off the pitch and possessing the only growing county membership cohort in the country.