Fresh faces excite Saker

By Liam Blackburn

England bowling coach David Saker is relishing the chance to work with a new-look attack that he will attempt to mould on the international stage during the NatWest Series.

The recent success of James Anderson and Stuart Broad owes much to the tutelage of Saker, who was brought in to hone their skills in 2010.

However, with the duo among those rested for the five-match rubber against Australia, Saker has the chance to aid the development of some fresh faces in the England set-up.

Pacemen Chris Jordan and Jamie Overton, just 19, have yet to represent the senior side while Boyd Rankin only made his 50-over bow for England in Ireland on Tuesday.

Saker revealed the opportunity to fine-tune their respective games is a job he is eager to take on.

“With the Jimmys and Stuarts you probably have done all you can with them, pretty much, so to get new guys is exciting, especially when they’re bigger guys,” he said after the first one-day international at Headingley was washed out.

“It is about getting to know them for one, getting some trust that way, and then just passing on cricket knowledge more than techniques.

“I like to see how they think about the game and get to know how they think they can get wickets, how they work out batsmen, how they talk about things; find out what they are about.

“We have put them to the test and they’ve done really well. They want to get better and I am sure they will play some part in this series.”

Should Overton feature in any of the four remaining contests, he will become the youngest player to represent England since the 1940s.

Saker believes the teenager’s form on the county circuit has merited his inclusion.

“He has been performing really well for Somerset,” Saker added.

“He has a lot of characteristics that we want at this level and it is good to find out what he’s about even if he doesn’t play.

“He gets to know how we work and we get to know how he works, so it’s a win-win for us.”

Saker feels the physique of Overton suggests his raw potential can be realised in the professional set-up of the England camp.

“He is tall and is quite strong for a 19-year-old,” the Australian continued.

“He bowls at a good pace and if I remember back to being 18-19 I wouldn’t have fancied facing someone that fast. He looks like an aggressive sort of guy and that’s a big trait for a fast bowler.

“At 19 he has got a lot of room for improvement so that by the time he is 23-24 he will be quicker and stronger.

“Just being exposed to our strength and conditioning programme would be helpful for him. And for getting more pace; that is one of the big areas you need to improve.”

With a relatively inexperienced attack set to face the tourists, captain Eoin Morgan will be looking for someone to step up during the crucial powerplay spells.

Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes was entrusted with that task in Ireland and Saker has backed the 22-year-old to meet the challenge in future too.

He said: “With our attack we have two recognised seamers and Ben, and that means, whether it be in the powerplay or at the end (of the innings), he is going to have to play that role. It’s a really tough ask now with the limited fielders outside the circle but he’s good enough to do it.

“No matter how good a bowler you are you will have days when it’s not easy because you are up against world-class batters. But all our bowlers know they might have to play those roles. He can handle it.”

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