Cricket

England selectors should regret overlooking Darren Stevens

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Stevens in action (©GettyImages)
Stevens in action (©GettyImages).

Some of you will have no idea who Darren Stevens is, some of you might have heard he has a handy record and some of you will have seen him play and will know exactly what I'm talking about. 

If you happen to fall in to the first category - or even the second - then I feel sorry for you, but it's the ECB's England selectors' fault. 

Ignored hero

You'll look at the above picture and see a bald 38-year-old hitting a routine boundary against Glamorgan and shrug your shoulders and think he's no Kevin Pietersen - but you'd be wrong. 

I know for a fact that I'm not alone when I hold the view that the Kent man is the best player to have never played for England - particularly in ODIs and T20s.

So who is Darren Stevens?

He's like a fine wine; that's the first thing you need to know - he just gets better with age. Unlike the current Test stars like your Joe Roots, Alastair Cooks and Stuart Broads, the former Leicestershire man was never earmarked as a future international.

Maybe it's the small county curse, but Stevens was a late-starter - not making his first class bow until he was 21 - and an even later-bloomer. 

Fireworks

But now, nearing his 40s, Stevens is England's most prolific-ever T20 batsman in domestic cricket and continues to shine at the modest yet beautiful setting of Canterbury, where the crowds sense, expect and usually witness fireworks.

A few highlights from the last two years: Hitting a run-a-ball double century on the last day of last season's County Championship - to surpass 1,000 runs - to chase a target of 400 (see it below) and hitting 118 in around 50 balls in a 40 over match against Sussex. Sit down Chris Gayle.

Add together his List A and T20 records and Stevens has nearly 10,000 runs - most of which have come in the last ten years. 

Bowler

Quite simply put, he is the most consistent batsman in England when it comes to the shorter format of the game. He ain't half bad with the ball either. The action and technique is more Paul Collingwood than Lasith Malinga, but the gentle - yet unnervingly accurate - medium pace gets results.

You could maybe see why Stevens never made the grade for Test cricket, unless you're on the radar from a young age - you'll find it difficult to get onto that conveyor belt. It's a progressive game.

In the here and now of T20 and 50 overs, why is the top domestic scorer not involved? Age shouldn't matter. If Ian Botham could clear the ropes today, then he should be in. Darren Stevens continues to do it with ease and should be involved.

Power

We lack a genuine power player; nudges and nurdles are the English way, but it hasn't worked since 2009 in the lesser-purer forms of the game. 

A good Test player doesn't make a good slogger and maybe our sides should've reflected that, rather than sticking with the status quo implemented by the central contract system.

Darren Stevens will never play international cricket, and what a waste of talent from the selectors. England's loss has been Kent's gain.  

Topics:
Cricket
England cricket
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