Rawlins raises the bar in rescuing England
Delray Rawlins added to his burgeoning reputation as a young player of genuine promise when he hit an unbeaten century to rescue England Under-19 on the first day of the second Youth Test against India in Nagpur.
Coming to the wicket in the second over with England two wickets down for only one run, Rawlins set about repairing the damage with arguably his finest innings since leaving Bermuda as a callow youth.
But before he could get off the mark, and without an additional run scored, England lost their third wicket — both George Bartlett and captain Max Holden, “daddy” century-makers in the first Test, back in the pavilion without having troubled the scorers.
Rawlins, coming off an unbeaten 70 in the second innings of the drawn first Test to end a run of relatively low scores, saw off the hat-trick ball from seam bowler Rishab Bhagat and settled the innings in the company of wicketkeeper Ollie Pope.
The pair batted for 36.2 overs in adding 98 for the fourth wicket before Pope was caught for 42.
“I didn't know it was a hat-trick — I was in a bit of a rush putting my pads on when George got out,” Rawlins told the Sussex County Cricket Club website.
The early dismissal of Euan Woods for six gave the home side hope that they had an end to bowl at, but Will Jacks proved an able foil for the 19-year-old Bermudian, the sight of whom India bowlers must be dreading by now.
Rawlins, whose power hitting has been unmatched by either side on this month-long tour, showed the finesse required to bat long, restricting himself to only the two sixes to go with 16 boundaries in his 124 not out from 254 balls.
“It was hot, and just before I got to 100 I was struggling a bit and needed water,” Rawlins said.
This was a more accomplished innings, but he still showed flashes of the power that has been his trademark in India.
“That's one of the pleasing things,” he said. “I suppose I've got a bit of a reputation for big-hitting so I was well-pleased to get my head down, and show I could spend a long time at the wicket.
“They've got even more spinners playing in this game because they've only gone with two seamers, so you had to concentrate hard, defend well, work out your scoring areas and pick the right balls to attack.
“I've done a lot of work out here with Mark Ramprakash [the batting coach] on making my game really simple, and making sure my basics are nailed down.
“I'd have taken the runs I scored before we came out, definitely. But now I want to go big tomorrow because we've got more work to do — and then hopefully I can also contribute with the ball.
“After the draw we got in the first game, it would be perfect if we could end the tour with a win.”
Rawlins also praised Pope and Jacks, who ply their trade for Surrey.
“There was a little bit of swing in the morning when Popey came in, but the way he played made it a bit easier for me,” Rawlins said. “He soaked up the pressure really well, and it's a shame he couldn't go on. But Will Jacks has played a great knock.
“He didn't play in the first couple of games so when he did come in it was when we were struggling. But he got 40-odd in one game and he came out today and showed a lot of character, and a lot of skill as well.”
England closed on 243 for five to establish a firm foothold in the final match of the tour.
Described at the end of the one-day series, in which he averaged 68.75 with a century and a fifty, as one who “fits the mould of an international player, and could go on to wear an England shirt for the senior team”, Rawlins is poised to go big and put the underdogs in with a real chance of snatching a famous series win.