Sussex Sharks skipper Luke Wright sees a bit of himself in the precociously talented Delray Rawlins.
And just as he did when he was starting his county career 15 years ago, Wright is confident that Rawlins can learn from his mistakes and develop into a classy all-rounder.
The 21-year-old Bermudan could have a key role with both bat and ball when the Sharks take on Worcestershire at the First Central County Ground in Friday’s sold-out Vitality Blast quarter-final.
He made 69, his highest score of the tournament so far, and also picked up two wickets with his left-arm spin in a man-of-the-match performance against Gloucestershire last week, much to the satisfaction of his captain who admits he had to learn from his mistakes when he started to make a name for himself.
“When he comes off Del is an eye-catching player," Wright said."Last Friday he took brilliant options. I have spoken to him about not trying to hit every ball for six – no player in the world can do that. It’s easy when you’re a bit more limited as a batsman and know your areas whereas he’s got all the shots.
“But you have to learn when to go and when to sit in. In our previous game (against Glamorgan) he tried to hit every ball for six – he is such a natural ball-striker and sometimes it’s hard to curb your natural instincts.
“We have backed him all the way and will continue to do that. Youngsters will make mistakes. I did it when I was coming through at Sussex but if you stick with young players then you will get the rewards.”
Sussex’s attack on Friday will look different to the one which started the tournament. Tymal Mills is out through injury, Rashid Khan is not available and now Jason Behrendorff has returned to Australia for treatment to a back problem after playing just two games so Rawlins’ improving left-arm spin may be called upon.
“I’ve been trying to get him a bowl all competition and it’s been hard work but he bowled really well last week and is definitely an option for us depending on conditions,” added Wright.
Rawlins is the sort of all-action cricketer it’s hard to ignore. He can hit the ball anywhere, his bowling demands respect and he is a live-wire in the field.
“I try to get in the hot spots in the field and it was nice to get some overs under my belt in the last game,” he said.
“Even with a few players missing our bowling unit is really strong so it’s been tough, but I want to become a genuine all-rounder, so bowling is important to me.
“I am feeling really confident with bat and ball and long may it continue for the T20 competition. It’s exciting times. We want to get to Finals Day again and play in front of a packed house.”
Sussex lost their last two group games at Hove, but Wright hopes home advantage can play its part on Friday.
“We have had seven sell-outs which is amazing and the atmosphere something the boys will relish," he said.
"But we have achieved nothing. If we want to get to Finals Day and win it, there is still a lot of work left to do before that happens.”