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Meet Jamie Overton, England's T20 World Cup bolter

Injuries have held him back, but Stokes' retirement could propel Surrey allrounder into the mix

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
02-Apr-2024
Jamie Overton is in the frame for the T20 World Cup after impressing with bat and ball for Surrey  •  Getty Images

Jamie Overton is in the frame for the T20 World Cup after impressing with bat and ball for Surrey  •  Getty Images

England's management have kept a close eye on Jamie Overton's development as a T20 allrounder and his chances of inclusion in their World Cup squad have swelled with Ben Stokes' withdrawal. Overton was already in contention for selection but is now certain to be discussed seriously when England pick a provisional squad for their title defence later this month.
Stokes was pencilled in to balance the side from No. 4 in the Caribbean and while Overton is not a like-for-like replacement, he has become a destructive finisher and offers genuine pace with the ball. Simon Katich, his coach in the Hundred, has given him a ringing endorsement and said that he would "without a doubt" recommend Overton for inclusion.
Rob Key, England's managing director who chairs their selection meetings, said in a recent newspaper interview that he wants to inject some "new blood" into their white-ball set-up after a disastrous 50-over World Cup. He has had several conversations with Overton in the last six months, during a winter which saw him impress in the BBL and the ILT20.
"At the end of last summer, he [Key] just said, 'Go and play some franchise cricket and see where you get to,'" Overton told ESPNcricinfo. "I've spoken to him a couple of times since, trying to gauge where things are, and I feel like I'm quite close to the World Cup squad. The white-ball squad has been quite settled but I feel like I'm close and if I get the nod, I'll make sure I'm ready for it."
Unlike his twin brother Craig, who has played seven Tests and eight ODIs, Jamie Overton has made a single international appearance to date, winning a Test cap against New Zealand in June 2022. He was picked as a fast bowler but made 97 from No. 8 in his only innings and it was primarily his batting - 202 runs at 40.40 and a strike-rate of 181.98 - that led him to win the MVP award in the men's Hundred last summer.
"Since the Hundred, he's gone from strength to strength," Katich, Overton's coach at Manchester Originals, told ESPNcricinfo. "He did very well for the [Adelaide] Strikers and then did very well in the Emirates. I was really impressed with his professionalism and it hasn't surprised me that he's kicked on. I have no doubt that he's an international cricketer, in my mind - it's just whether the England selectors feel the same."
Overton's plane ticket to Barbados is not yet secure but Stokes' withdrawal confirms that his name will be up for discussion when England select their provisional squad, which must be submitted before the ICC's May 1 deadline. "There's not many guys in English cricket at the moment who can bowl 140kph [87mph] and smack them with the bat," Katich said.
What does Overton himself think he would offer? "Just something different," he says. "We've obviously got loads of hitters, but maybe not primarily a lower-order hitter. I've shown this winter that I can bowl with the new ball, at the death and in the middle. Maybe in the West Indies, you might need a bit more pace, and the six-hitting side of things might come into it a bit more."
If that holds true then Overton could prove a better fit for the conditions than his Surrey team-mate Sam Curran. Curran was the player of the tournament at the 2022 World Cup, using the vast dimensions of Australia's grounds to his advantage, but endured some rough treatment on the white-ball tour of the Caribbean in December; he is finding his way back to form at the IPL but could find his spot under some pressure.
When Overton joined Surrey three-and-a-half years ago, he had only batted in 23 of his 48 T20 appearances and had grown frustrated when trying to convince Somerset to push him up the order from No. 9. "I wasn't seen as the person to finish an innings," he says. "Coming here just felt like it was a fresh start and a fresh challenge, and the batting sort of took over."
By his own admission, he briefly regretted the move at first while using a club-owned flat as a base in London and regularly travelling back and forth to Ditcheat, the village in Somerset where he lived. But since moving to Guildford, where he lives with his girlfriend: "I haven't looked back… I still find London a bit hectic, but I actually don't mind it now."
His bowling with a red ball progressed to the point of that Test debut in 2022 but injuries set him back, twice ruling him out of the Hundred. He pinpoints last summer's Blast, when he played as a specialist batter during stress-fracture rehabilitation, as a key point in his development as a T20 cricketer: "I learned a lot from that."
Overton took his form into the Hundred, playing for the Originals under Jos Buttler, his old Somerset team-mate, and hitting 83 not out off 30 balls in a win at Headingley. It was vindication for Katich, who twice retained him despite him missing the first two seasons through injury and has since rewarded him with a top-bracket ?125,000 contract for 2024.
Katich describes Overton as his squad's "best trainer, particularly with the bat." He explains: "He consistently went into his net sessions with a clear plan to bat properly, rather than just trying to smack balls as far as he can. It's a common theme in T20 cricket - the boys all want to hit them 20 rows back - but he focused on his technique… that gave him confidence to adapt to whatever the game situation required."
At Adelaide Strikers - who primarily signed him as a batter - he thrived under the guidance of bowling coach Ryan Harris, taking 16 wickets to finish as their leading wicket-taker. After a month at ILT20 with Gulf Giants, Surrey pulled him out of the PSL to manage a shoulder niggle and he is back at The Oval for the start of the County Championship season.
The ECB will not have any official say in Overton's early-season playing time - he does not have an England contract - but given his recent injury history, Surrey may look to manage his workload. "I'm going to try and play as much as I can. I don't like taking breaks," Overton says, before conceding: "I'm learning that I need to every now and again."
Gareth Batty, Surrey's coach, joked that Overton was "our Andre Russell" shortly after he joined the club; now, the comparison does not seem so far-fetched. "I'm a similar mould to him," Overton says. "I might have a bit more touch as a batter but he's one of the best six-hitters in world cricket. If I can do anything nearly as good as him, I feel like I'll be in a good place."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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