Two Shining Stars
What were you doing at the age of 21?
Were you ramping, scooping and reverse flicking your way to international prominence in franchise cricket?
Were you scoring Test hundreds?
No, me neither.
But Tom Banton and Ollie Pope have been doing just that.
Banton and Pope are two of English cricket's gems and with continued endeavour, discipline and no little fortune could dominate formats of cricket for England this decade.
Banton has lit up T20 cricket from Taunton to Tasmania and is now regarded as one of the most valuable young batsmen in the world in the format.
Yes he is still learning and is by no means the finished article, but exposure to the best will only accelerate his development; England have already come calling and I would imagine Morgan will be keeping a close eye on his performances. With two T20 World Cups scheduled for the next two years, he will play a significant part and should feature in the 2023 World Cup.
It's no huge leap in imagination to see Banton playing 200 ODIs and being a part of three or four World Cups; the lad has talent in abundance.
Pope is hailed by Alec Stewart as one of the very best young batsmen in the world. With a FC average of 60+ (from a relatively small sample size) and an aesthetic style that has reminded some of Ian Bell (22 Test hundreds) the purists have been cooing.
His Test career so far has been promising, he has already formed an excellent understanding with Joe Root and he has not looked in bother with any type of bowling he has thus far encountered.
The WI pace attack this summer will be another examination but if he continues to flourish he will be a banker for the Ashes tour in just over a year. When is English cricket not thinking about The Ashes?
It is not fanciful to see Pope being the bedrock upon which the Test side can build and dominate; with continued hard work Pope could dominate Test cricket for England this decade, play 100+ Tests and be a key wicket for any opposition in the future.
Two formats to be mastered.
Thousands of runs in the making.
Two shining lights for England.