Future Stars: Dan Lawrence, Essex

Not too long ago, we wrote a post about Dan Lawrence and how his antics with the Lions down under was pushing his case for a full test cap. So it's littler surprise to see him listed here as part of our future stars series. If you've not read our posts on Amar Virdi and Ben Charlesworth, head over and check them out.

On the recent Lions tour, it seemed as though Dan Lawrence couldn't do any wrong, regardless of the format. With scores of 50, 35, 41, 190, 125 and 52, you'd be forgiven for thinking this future star will be making an impact a lot sooner than most.

At just 22 years of age, Lawrence already has a huge amount of experience in first-class cricket. He's appeared on 70 occasions for the 2019 County Championship winners Essex since his debut in 2015, at the age of just 17.

In 70 games, Lawrence has accumulated 3804 runs at an average of 38.42, including 17 half-centuries and 10 centuries. He's a true red-ball cricketer who loves batting time and makes a habit of converting his starts into big scores.

As we previously mentioned on here, Lawrences's game is wrapped about a sound technical base with an ability to play all the shots:

Dan Lawrence has built his game on a firm technical base, in an age of technical deficiencies Lawrence has continued to hone his technical skills, and while he may not be Ollie Pope attractive in his game, he has all the classic shots you'd expect first-class batsman to have.
Lawrence moves across his stumps during the delivery which helps his off-side game. I saw maybe 2-3 innings of his last year and he's very good down the ground and square of the wicket, and has a stunning cover drive as well. I didn't see much on the leg-side but that may have just been the games I watched.

The problem for Lawrence at the moment is that England are stacked with batting talent through the middle-order which is where he bats for Essex. He's not going to displace Joe Root, Ben Stokes or Ollie Pope. With Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley all competing for the opening positions (Hassan Azad will soon join that mix), the only spot available is #3.

The problem here is that Dan Lawrence doesn't bat at #3 for Essex. He tends to bat a little lower down the order. Some will suggest moving Pope up the order, creating a space lower down. However Pope is the most exciting batting talent we've had since Joe Root, so why would you tinker with that at this point.

The #3 position is a specialised one in test cricket. You need to have an openers temperament with a middle-order skill set. There is a load of pressure on batsmen coming in at first drop. If the openers have fallen cheaply, they need to consolidate. If the openers have done well, they're expected to come in and pick up the flow of the game straight away. It would be a lot to put on the shoulders of a 22-year-old making his first start in test cricket.

This summer, if I'm Dan Lawrence, I'm pleading with Essex to let me bat at #3. You can never recreate the atmosphere/pressure of a test environment, but the more experience you have, the better your chances of not only surviving the piranha-infested waters of test cricket but actually succeeding.

Dan Lawrence's Lions performance this winter vaulted him into consideration. However there's absolutely no rush. Let him play the first half of the county season, and if he's performing, move him into the squad to start getting acclimatised, a debut on home soil against the West Indies or Pakistan is ideal.

Regardless of whether it comes this summer, this winter or next summer. Dan Lawrence is a future star for this England team.


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