Overton twins are called-up by England

Craig Overton
Craig Overton
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Craig and Jamie Overton may be about to become the first set of twins ever to play together for England after their call-ups to the Royal London Series squad.

The 21-year-olds will prompt double-takes for a new set of team-mates and supporters at the final two one-day internationals against New Zealand in Nottingham and Durham.

Only two days ago, the identical Overtons had no such plans, travelling on Somerset’s team bus away to Glamorgan when Craig was the first to take a call from national selector James Whitaker asking him instead to report for duty with England in Southampton as cover for the injured Chris Jordan.

Less than 48 hours later, it was Jamie – the younger twin by three minutes – who answered his phone to Whitaker to be told he too was needed as a replacement, for Liam Plunkett this time.

He was immediately on the line again to big brother to let him know they would be back in the same squad again after all as England seek to battle back from 2-1 down against the Kiwis.

The quicker bowler and harder-hitting batsman of the pair, Jamie’s assessment of the far-fetched turn of events tended towards understatement.

“It’s been an interesting week for all of us,” he said, having had to break off during two 2nd XI matches away to Middlesex and set off pronto up the M1.

“I gave Craig a ring and said I’d see him in Nottingham.

“Then I spoke to our parents and obviously they are very happy as well.”

The Overtons have been edging closer to England’s plans for the past three seasons, Jamie part of the squad for an ODI series at home to Australia in 2013 and Craig forced to leave the Lions tour of South Africa last winter with an ankle injury.

They hit the headlines this summer too in a spectacular last-wicket stand against county champions Yorkshire at Taunton last month.

Even so, their dual promotion could not easily have been predicted.

Jamie added: “It was a bit different when Craig got the call on Saturday, because he didn’t have the right kit with him, so he had to ring up dad and arrange to get picked up and taken down to Southampton.

“Craig’s been bowling fantastically and his call-up was rightly deserved.

“I saw a stat the other day that he’s the only player in the country who’s taken 20 wickets at less than 20 as well as scoring 200 runs, which shows he’s one of the best all-rounders (in England).”

Craig too has spotted his brother coming up on the rails again after struggling last season.

“Jamie has been bowling quick,” he said.

“None of the boys have been looking forward to facing him in the nets, put it that way – especially me, because he always gives me a bit of extra brotherly love.”

They have been playing cricket together from the age of five, on the boundary and then in the middle at their father’s club North Devon, yet have teamed up so far in only nine first-class matches.

Craig said: “Most of the time with Somerset it’s seemed like only one of us has been picked, or one or other of us has been injured.

“But we’ve been playing together since we were about five, so we still know each other’s games pretty well.

“Mum and dad came down to Southampton yesterday and, although mum can’t make it to Nottingham on Wednesday, I think dad will be coming up again, just in case.”

The unexpected reunion in the midlands is sure to feel surreal.

Craig added: “We’re both pretty happy. We’ve only spoken briefly, but I’m looking forward to meeting up with him.

“I think we’re in single rooms with England, but Somerset usually split us up anyway.

“We get on pretty well ... but you know what brothers are like.”

It is more than half-a-century since twins were even close to representing England when the great Alec Bedser’s brother Eric also played more than 450 times for Surrey, but never his country.

Since then, of course, Mark and Steve Waugh became two of Australia’s best batsmen - and, coincidentally, England’s current opponents New Zealand fielded Hamish and James Marshall in their middle order.

The Overtons stand a chance of creating their own history, perhaps this week.

Should they do so, it will be Jamie who supplies the out-and-out pace, possible big hitting - and the most chat - while Craig is the steadying influence on and off the pitch.

Jamie said: “I’ve probably always been a bit more the outgoing one.

“He’s been more consistent as a bowler and he’s technically the better batsman.

“But I’d like to think I’ve settled down a bit this year.”

It will be understandable if he gets a little excited again should either he or his brother make the England team sheet.