DateLine: 20th February 2007
Among the new breed of players knocking at the doors for a regular place in the England squad Rikki Clarke is one of the best. He certainly is young cricketer with immense potential for he has displayed all round skills of a high order. At the moment his game seems tailor made for limited overs cricket but he has not done badly in the two Tests he has played against Bangladesh on the 2003-04 tour scoring 96 at an average of 32 and picking up four wickets for 60 runs. But the fact remains that the tall and compactly built Clarke is a bit of a one-day specialist as underlined by his fairly impressive record. Winner of the Cricketers Writers Club prestigious Young Cricketer of the year award in 2002 he was included in the squad for the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka. But he played his first ODI against Pakistan at Old Trafford in June 2003 and made it a memorable one by becoming the first Englishman since Geoff Arnold in 1972 to take a wicket with his first delivery. He then toured Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and West Indies but overall had a rather disappointing record. However consistent performances in the 2006 season brought him back into the ODI squad against Pakistan and for the Champions Trophy in India.