Can Will Rhodes build on a Strong 2020, and put his name forward for England?

For a long time, Dom Sibley's weight of runs took the limelight at Warwickshire. But with Sibley trying to cement his place with the England team, it was up to his old opening partner to take over the reins at the Edgbaston club in 2020.

25-year-old Rhodes came through with flying colours scoring 816 runs for an average of 52.87. It was a break out year for the left-handed opener whose first-class average currently sits at 36.86.

If you've never seen Will Rhodes bat, you'll find a player with a strong leg-side game who plays exceptionally well off the back foot. However, a one-dimensional player he is not, his ability to play each ball on its merit and mix in off-side cuts and drives make him a very dangerous opener, especially in English conditions. He has the patience to bat long, but has shown a willingness to punish bad bowling, accelerating the run rate early in the inning.

Rhodes has been on the ECB radar for some time. He captained the U19's at the 2014 World Cup and received plenty of praise after guiding England to the semi-finals where he hit an unbeaten 76 against Pakistan, and although England were eliminated at this stage, his game impressed many with him being regarded as a good all-rounder for the future.

Rhodes who is a native Yorkshiremen came through the ranks at Headingly before heading south to Warwickshire before the 2018 season. His first year at Edgbaston was a huge success as he scored 974 first-class runs for an average of 42.34, this included four centuries. Before making a permanent move to Warwickshire, Rhodes did work under current England coach Chris Silverwood at Essex during a loan spell in 2016.

During 2019, Rhodes average dipped slightly to 33.47, often making a start but failing to go on to make a score. At the end of that season, he was made the club-captain, having taken over from Jeetan Patel and he repaid the faith in 2020 with the best year of his career.

It seems as though Rhodes has been around for a long time and it would be easy to forget that he's just 25. He made his List A debut for Yorkshire as an 18-year-old and followed that up by making his first-class debut two years later. Within a stacked system in Yorkshire, he decided to leave in search of more opportunities, in the same way Dom Sibley left Surrey.

Although listed as an all-rounder thanks to his right-arm medium pacers, I think it's fair to say that Rhodes is a batsman who can bowl a little bit. His 53 first-class wickets at 33 apiece shout useful, but not what's going to get you international recognition.

The opening situation for England is murky, to say the least. Rory Burns has recently been dropped after a poor run with the bat and Dom Sibley has shown his limitations while also showing the grit, patience and determination needed to open the batting. It's still unclear if England see Zak Crawley as an opening batsman or a #3, and that may become clear over the English summer.

Competition for places is always fierce when it comes to international cricket and there are plenty of good county cricketers trying to stake their claim, Tom Lammonby is one such player that we recently covered.

If Rhodes can put up a 1,000 run season at an average north of 50 again, he'll be giving Ed Smith something to think about.

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