17-year-old Dan Lawrence is taking the County Championship by storm after becoming the third youngest batsman to score a century in the competition.
The Essex youngster played a key role against Surrey as the home side stormed to 610-8 in response to Surrey’s 340 and 95-2.
Top-scoring with 161, Lawrence has followed in the footsteps of Godfrey Bryan, the Kent man who hit a ton in 1920. Dipak Patel also achieved the feat for Worcestershire in 1976.
It all could have been very different, when Lawrence was dropped on 18. Surrey were left to rue their mistake, though, as The Oval watched on to see his first century.
He was eventually dismissed by Zafar Ansari, who will have been in buoyant mood following his England call-up for the single ODI against Ireland in May.
Essex is perhaps the perfect place for Lawrence’s development. Speaking to the BBC, he said: “At Essex we have some great players…Alistair Cook, Ravi Bopara and Jesse Ryder – and they have all been fantastic to me.”
That list could also include opener Nick Browne, whose own century has been somewhat overshadowed by the youngster’s achievements.
Browne’s 143 put Essex in control, and it does well to remember than in spite of his excellent pre-season for the county, he is relatively new to the first team himself, having featured in just 14 first-class matches.
At the other end of the spectrum, Kevin Pietersen became the fastest batsman to reach 1,000 first-class runs for Surrey. While the veteran has rightly earned some plaudits for a hugely impressive feat, the focus has remained on Lawrence, Essex’s bright, up-and-coming star.
Lawrence is one of a number of exciting prospects in the County Championship. Kent’s Sam Billings is also attracting his fair share of attention; at 23, it has been a slightly longer process for the wicket-keeper batsman, but he is another indication that there are exciting times ahead for the four-day game.
Fears remain for the financial future of county cricket, but at least on the field, the likes of Lawrence suggest there is much to look forward to over the coming season and beyond.
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