Cow Corner

Wright coming of age just in time for England

Cow Corner

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England were certainly in need of some inspiration from their top order, particularly after a shambolic and insipid showing against India and a frustrating defeat to West Indies at the start of the Super Eights at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

With Craig Kieswetter either going big or blocking each delivery and a lack of an established talisman (let's, for argument's sake, call him KP), the apparent coming of age of Luke Wright could not be better timed.

England sustained their hopes of retaining the World Twenty20 title with a six-wicket win over New Zealand in Pallekele on Saturday, and it was the 76 from 43 balls from Wright that inspired the victory.

Wright, who made 99 against Afghanistan in the group stages, provided another innings of courage and conviction to take England to victory with seven deliveries remaining. It was a mature and mightily impressive knock.

While England may still need to win their final Super Eights game against Sri Lanka on Monday to progress through to the last four, the way Wright has distinguished himself with his fearless displays of late has encouraged every supporter.

There is no need to hide the fact that England could have been eliminated on Saturday had results gone against them.

Equally, it would be churlish to suggest that if Wright hadn't stepped up with his 76, someone else would have taken responsibility. England's collective efforts with the bat have been poor in these conditions, and confidence is at a premium.

Having given himself some time to become accustomed to the pitch - it took him four deliveries to score a run - he put away the loose ball nicely before accelerating decisively having reached 25.

Thereafter, the Sussex all-rounder attacked, hitting the ball straight and cleanly and, at one stage, hitting four sixes in seven deliveries. In all he struck five sixes and five fours.

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It is hard to overstate how important Wright's two big knocks have been for his side.

England survived the first over of their innings without losing a wicket for the first time in the tournament but Hales, and in particular Kieswetter, have continued to struggle to keep the scoreboard ticking over early on, and England have suffered as a result.

Let us not forget that Wright produced a blistering 99 off 55 balls after the holders overcame a slightly tricky start against Afghanistan in highly convincing fashion.

Wright only returned to the line-up at the tail-end of the English season and had not been earmarked for the number three role until Ravi Bopara's sudden and drastic loss of form.

But having made a brace of useful 30s in the warm-ups, he provided further evidence of his development over the last year. He powered past his previous best of 71 against Netherlands, at Lord's, during his side's ill-fated 2009 World Twenty20 campaign.

Against Afghanistan, he became the 12th batsman to register a score in the nineties in Twenty20 internationals and also the second batsman after Alex Hales to make a score of 99. Oh, and he set a new record for an England batsman of six maximums during the knock.

Wright, rather cheekily, puts his recent success down to "being picked", but he has also hinted at a much more telling reason - feeling wanted and being trusted.

For a long time, England captains, players and management have talked about how vital it was for Bopara to feel trusted and secure; well, this is a case of another player desiring the same things.

Wright thrived in Australia's Big Bash Twenty20 competition, and has excelled in the IPL and the Twenty20 Cup for Sussex. This is not a flash in the pan, nor a promising talent emerging from the lower ranks; perhaps more respect is warranted.

The all-rounder is finally feeling at home in an England shirt and, while England have many other selection dilemmas, Andy Flower has a very capable and talented number three who has grabbed his latest opportunities with relish.

At the age of 27, and after having been a fringe player for so long, Wright is really proving his worth for England on the biggest stage, and it could not be more welcome for the reigning World Twenty20 champions.

NEXT UP: England take on Sri Lanka on Monday in their final Group 1 match of the Super Eights, sitting second behind the hosts with West Indies third with an inferior net run-rate. New Zealand take on West Indies in the day's other game.

TALKING POINT: Is it finally time for England to drop wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter, with Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow able to keep wicket? Post your views below...

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