There was a sense of dismay when uncapped all-rounder Liam Dawson was included in England’s squad for the ICC World T20, which starts next month, especially given head coach Trevor Bayliss admitted that he’s never even seen him play.
But Dawson, who was a team-mate of mine at Hampshire a few years back, is a very competitive character and has got the hunger for a fight. Aside from that he is a multi-talented cricketer: he can bat and bowl and is a very good slip catcher.
With the nature of Indian pitches, England are going to need spin options out there and the reason why they have opted for Dawson over someone like Lancashire’s Stephen Parry, for instance, is probably that he offers more with the bat.
In the Twenty20 format you need to be able to bat right down to No10 and, if he plays, Dawson, who bowls left-arm off-spin, would effectively be a top-order batsman coming in down the order.
I’m really pleased for him. He’s a very laid back character off the pitch and someone who works really hard on his game. He’s 25 now but I remember him making an impression when he first came onto the scene as a teenager.
He got runs, became the youngest player to score a first-class century for Hampshire, took a few wickets and was involved in the England set-up, initially as England Under-19 captain and then at Lions level, before suffering a couple of tough seasons.
Dawson found himself out of the side last term and was farmed out on loan to Essex, but he seemed to improve on his return. He also performed well for England Lions against Pakistan A on subcontinent-type pitches in the United Arab Emirates recently.
Aside from Dawson there weren’t too many shocks in the squad, although Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes, who has been a fairly consistent performer over the last 12 months and a pretty solid death bowler, was omitted.
In my mind it will have come down to a choice between Woakes and Sussex all-rounder Chris Jordan. Given Jordan’s current form I was quite surprised they didn’t opt for Woakes but it would have been a tough call.
There was no room for Kevin Pietersen neither, while Bayliss confirmed that he had not even been discussed at the selection meeting. There is no doubt KP is good enough to be in that side and he played some unbelievable knocks in the Big Bash over the winter.
But decisions have been made and England are moving in a different direction. They are moving forward and they don’t actually need KP. Bringing him back would be crazy, not because he’s not good enough, but all the hype would detract from the team.