With the start of the county season just around the corner (don't look outside at the moment, as cricket feels a million miles away) we thought now was a good time to take a look at some exciting young English talent. With so many players competing over 18 county teams, sometimes it's helpful to know where to look.
A few of the below you'll be familiar with, hopefully, there are a couple here that you're not too familiar with as well.
1) Ollie Pope
First Class: 36 matches, 2,690 runs, 61.13 average, 9 centuries, 251 top score
If you're reading this blog, you probably know all about Pope. The next great English batsmen, the best prospect since Joe Root, the second coming of Bradman himself, OK maybe not the last one, but it's safe to say that Pope receives a lot of hype. The unusual thing for a young English batsman is that he deserves it all. He's only played 36 first class games but it's clear that he's a cut above the rest. A beautiful stroke player who's cover drive will make you drool. I'd be amazed if he didn't go on to become one of the best.
2) Sam Hain
First Class: 75 matches, 3,897 runs, 37.11 average, 10 centuries, 208 top score
Hain will hopefully get a chance with the Lions this weekend as he is coming off a very impressive season for Warwickshire. The thing I like about Hain is that he really struggled for a couple of years in red-ball cricket, he went away, worked on his technique, closed a few holes and he's come back and performed to a very high standard. Hain is someone who has every single shot in the book, drives, cuts, sweeps, he's good on both the front and back foot. If he continues to leave balls he should be leaving, he'll score plenty of runs in 2020.
3) Dan Lawrence
First Class: 69 matches, 3,679 runs, 37.54 average, 9 centuries, 161 top score
There's a lot of love for Lawrence on this blog. We recently wrote about him knocking on the test tour following his exploits for the England Lions in Australia this winter. Lawrence has the benefit that he can learn from Alastair Cook at Essex in 2020, and you also have to remember that it's usually not easy to bat at Chelmsford (Lawrence's home ground), which makes his returns even more impressive. He has a leg-side and off-side game and a test-cricket temperament, it's only a matter of time before he gets his call. If he starts the county championship well, that call could come against the West Indies or Pakistan this summer.
4) Hassan Azad
First Class: 24 matches, 1,659 runs, 50.27 average, 4 centuries, 139 top score
Hassan opened for Leicestershire last year and he did a phenomenal job. 2019 was Azad's first county championship season, now 26 he'll be looking to make up for lost time. Azad is an old fashioned type of opener who likes to get in and see what the balls up to before committing to expansive shots (which he has in his bag). He ended his debut season as the top scorer in Division 2 and faced over 650 deliveries more than any other player. The thing I love about Azad is that he doesn't get himself out, he makes good decisions and he plays each ball on its merit. Keep your eye on Hassan this year, if he can repeat his 2019 performance, more people are going to start taking notice.
5) Zak Crawley
First Class: 41 matches, 2,100 runs, 30.88 average, 3 centuries, 168 top score
Crawley is still just 22, but he's already got a taste for international cricket. England have a history of seeing players who aren't lighting up county cricket and bringing them through regardless and that's exactly what they did with Crawley. He's a big man who has some fine shots in his bag, he's expansive, he likes to attack and on his day he can really take a bowling attack apart. I'm still not sold on Crawley at international level as he does push at the ball a little bit, but he's got a lot of time to develop.
6) Tom Kohler-Cadmore
First Class: 61 matches, 3,332 runs, 35.82 average, 9 centuries, 176 top score
Kohler-Cadmore is an exceptional talent, but his part in the Alex Hepburn affair has clouded his name over the past 12 months. However he's vowed to learn from that and if 2019 is anything to go by, he's going to let his game do the talking. Tom is coming off his first 1,000 run season for Yorkshire and if you saw him last year you would have seen a much-improved player. Predominantly an off-side player, Kohler-Cadmore looked a lot more comfortable off his hips and pulling to the legside in 2019. He'll be hoping for another 1000 run 2020 season.
7) Aneurin Donald
First Class: 48 matches, 2,610 runs, 32.22 average, 3 centuries, 234 top score
Donald is one of my favourite players to watch, you won't see a much more expansive first-class player, that's his strength and ultimately his weakness. With England talking about traditional test batting, I'm not sure Donald will be their cup of tea. However, you can't ignore the obvious talent that Donald possesses. If you watch him, you'll see him reverse sweeping, driving anything loose through the covers. He uses his feet well against spin which you love to see from young players. His game warrants more return than he gets.
8) Will Rhodes
First Class: 50 matches, 2,674 runs, 35.18 average, 5 centuries, 137 top score
I've got a lot of time for Will Rhodes, a player who has a fine leg-side game and a superb cut shot that he uses to devastating effect. He was recently made club-captain at Warwickshire and his leadership skills have been talked about ever since he led the England U19's team at the 2014 world cup. Moving to Warwickshire from Yorkshire in 2018 was a good move for Rhodes who has become a key component of that team. Still only 24, he has a lot of talent and will be on England's radar.
9) Joe Clarke
First Class: 75 matches, 4,586 runs, 37.90 average, 16 centuries, 194 top score
Another player whose name was tarnished in the Hepburn rape trial, although the judge was quite clear in saying that Clarke did nothing wrong. Clarke is a superb batsman, and at only 23, it's impressive that he's notched up 16 first-class centuries. A right-handed middle-order batsman, Clarke has superb timing and a two-side game, looking forward driving through the off-side as well as clipping through the leg-side. He also showed a lot of maturity in 2019 having to dig in at points. Clarke isn't the next cab off the rank, but he's only 23 and if he nudges that average over 40, he'll be harder to ignore.
10) Josh Bohanon
First Class: 16 matches, 727 runs, 42.76 average, 1 century, 174 top score
I never see Josh spoken about in terms of a future England selection and I'm not really sure why. He made his first-class debut towards the end of 2018 and continued his impressive start with a decent 2019 for a Lancashire team that got themselves promoted. Bohanon does still have a lot of development to do, and you wouldn't exactly call him consistently pleasant on the eye, however he has a good range of shots and punished the weaker Division 2 bowlers. It'll be interesting to see how he goes against Division 1 opposition this year.
11) Dominic SIbley
First Class: 74 matches, 4,692 runs, 41.52 average, 14 centuries, 244 top score
I almost forgot to put Sibley in here. With a test hundred to his name and looking like a seasoned veteran already, it's easy to forget that Sibley is just 24. If England want to play traditional test cricket then Sibley is your man. He looked every part the England opener in South Africa, the real test is going to come on the turning wickets of Sri Lanka and India. So far, so good for Sibley and personally I have every confidence in him going forward. I wrote this on Sibley for the Full Toss Blog before his England call-up.