Jamie Overton cutting back the throttle to accelerate his England Test return

Jamie Overton has accepted that he must temper the occasional sharp burst by bowling slightly within himself in order to prevent injuries from blighting his future.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 14th November 2018, 5:01 am
Somerset's Jamie Overton: Managing his pace.
Somerset's Jamie Overton: Managing his pace.

The Somerset paceman is widely recognised as one of the fastest bowlers on the county circuit but has endured a string of setbacks over the course of his career.

A stress fracture to his back – a common ailment among those who strive for express pace – wiped out most of the last couple of years but he overcame a side strain at the start of 2018 to make an impact this season.

Overton wants to continue to push the speed gun but, having taken inspiration from Australia’s Mitchell Starc in the Ashes last winter, knows he cannot strain every sinew each time he runs into the crease.

The 24-year-old said: “It’s tough because as a youngster you want to play as much cricket as you can but if you want to bowl at 90mph then you can’t play every game and bowl 90mph every delivery.

“How many in the world actually do it? You don’t have to bowl max out all the time, I’ve been sorting that out over the last six months, seven months.

“Looking at Mitchell Starc over the winter, how often did he bowl at 88mph or 90mph? Sometimes he would bowl at 82 or 84mph and then when he wanted to he could crank it up to 88 or 89mph.

“If you can hover around 85 or 86mph and then when you want to crank it up you can. That makes it so much easier and there’s less force on your body.

“I still want to be quicker than the rest of the lads but it’s just trying to almost hold an end and be patient and get the wickets through patience. Then when I want to I can fire up when I need to.”

Overton was a consistent performer in his eight County Championship fixtures this year with 26 wickets at an average of 24.84 while just Pat Brown and Matt Parkinson took more scalps in the Vitality Blast.

Indeed, he seemed to be on the brink of an overdue England call-up although the selectors plumped for Warwickshire’s Olly Stone for the ongoing tour of Sri Lanka.

Overton, whose twin brother Craig has played three Tests and a solitary one-day international, said: “Obviously I know England want a quick bowler and there’s not many around so you feel like you’re in with a chance.

“But at that moment I wasn’t really focused on that, I was just trying to do my stuff for Somerset and keep doing the good things well. If it did come then it comes but I wasn’t thinking ‘I should be there’.”

Overton had the consolation of being named in the four-day and limited-overs squads for England Lions’ tour of the United Arab Emirates to take on Pakistan A, which gets under way this month.

The grounds have a reputation for being a graveyard for fast bowlers but Overton admitted that has been an occupational hazard in his career.

He added: “If you do well there then you can bowl on any pitch.”

Ben Stokes was named at No 3 in an unchanged England side for the second Test against Sri Lanka which began in the early hours of this morning, with Yorkshire wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow overlooked despite being fit.

In keeping faith with the same XI that established a 1-0 series lead in Galle, captain Joe Root and head coach Trevor Bayliss made two significant decisions.

Stokes was vying with Jos Buttler for promotion in the order and the all-rounder has a chance to lock down the problem position for the foreseeable future, with previous incumbent Moeen Ali having failed to do so.

Buttler was pencilled in to bat at three in the first Test if England had bowled first and Moeen was fatigued. Stokes came in at five in both innings and has played 64 of his 85 Test knocks from No 6.

Bayliss, though, believes he has a technique well suited to a more prominent position.

The decision to leave out Bairstow may have been even harder given his efforts as the country’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman over the past three years.

It is understood he was available for selection after working hard to bounce back from ankle ligament damage sustained during the one-day series, but Ben Foakes’s stunning debut as stand-in blocked Bairstow’s route back.

Before the team was announced, Root advocated the need for flexibility.

“I think you have to adjust, to be as adaptable as possible,” said Root. “You obviously want some sort of consistency in your top order but in tours in this part of the world, on surfaces where conditions are so extreme at times, there will be times you might want to change things round.”

Bairstow’s disappointment will doubtless be acute.

He will surely get his chance again sooner rather than later, maybe even in Colombo, but having defied initial estimates to recover in time, he would have been desperate to play.