Will Jacks on leading England’s reset, failing to get a central contract… and his injury from too much flying!
- All-rounder Will Jacks is hoping to cement his England place in the Caribbean
- His incredible hitting brought him England debuts in all three formats last winter
- And he is challenging to open the batting in England’s 50-over and T20 reset
Will Jacks speaks in a manner befitting the new breed of no fear batsmen charged with leading England out of their post-World Cup funk and into another explosive white-ball era.
‘I’ve never had a problem playing with freedom so the way the game has gone in the last few years is brilliant,’ says a man challenging to open the batting in England’s 50-over and T20 reset in the Caribbean starting this weekend.
‘You can’t think about getting caught on the boundary because if you did you’d start taking the safe option and this attitude is about winning games.
‘It’s the way you have to approach the game if you want to play for England and it suits me. If the game’s there to win and you have to take risks you just have to do it because, if you get out, who cares? It’s the risk and reward of the game these days.’
It is a mind-set demonstrated when Jacks was caught on the boundary on 94 in one of his early one-day international appearances against Ireland at Trent Bridge last summer — he insists he has no regrets about missing out on a first England hundred —and one that has been integral to his attitude throughout his rise as a very modern batter.
All-rounder Will Jacks (above) is hoping to cement his England place in the Caribbean
Jacks showed his off-spin prowess by taking six wickets on Test debut against Pakistan
Jacks announced himself with an extraordinary hundred off just 25 balls for Surrey against Lancashire in a T10 pre-season friendly in Dubai in 2019 and made the first century in the Hundred, off just 48 balls, for Oval Invincibles last year.
His incredible hitting brought him debuts in all three formats for England last winter, and he showed his off-spin prowess by taking six wickets on Test debut against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.
But his progress was checked by a hip injury earlier this year that was diagnosed as being a direct consequence of the amount of flying he does in pursuing his multi-format career and, having just turned 25, he journeys to the Caribbean needing a restart just as much as England.
‘I’m really excited,’ Jacks tells Mail Sport during a rare spell at home in London. ‘I’ve been around a bit and been involved in a lot of squads without breaking through and been a mainstay of the teams but I’m experienced enough now and hopefully ready to take that next step. Is this a new era? Maybe yes, maybe no, but there will be new people there for the start of a 50-over World Cup cycle and a good mix of youth and experience.’
He might have made that breakthrough before now, and provided a much-needed spark to England’s World Cup capitulation in India, had he not been injured after rushing from the Test squad in New Zealand to the 50-over side in Bangladesh in late February.
‘It was a tendon injury which is incredibly rare for a cricketer, especially a batsman, so what it came down to was a pure tiredness injury,’ says Jacks.
‘I’d had 40 flights last winter and my body was at its limit. Something had to give. So I learnt my lessons about recovery and I have to look after myself going forward. It’s the before and after flying, the stretching, going in the pool and eating well.
‘It was pretty disappointing. There would have been more opportunities in Bangladesh and, you never know, that might have helped me push my case more for the World Cup just gone. Then I missed the IPL. So, it was a setback but I like to think I bounced back and had a good summer and I’ll use that to learn some lessons about travelling and looking after my body.’
Now Jacks will be competing with Test openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett for his preferred spot at the top of the order in the new 50-over team while looking to prove he is one of the openers to launch their defence of the world T20 title back in the Caribbean in June. ‘I’ve opened my whole career pretty much and that’s where I’ve had my success, made my name and where all my good numbers have come so I’d love to go up there.’
There is one potential cloud on the horizon. Jacks, surprisingly for a batter who epitomises the all-out aggressive approach England want to regain in white-ball cricket, was not among the 29 players awarded central contracts.
The three-time County Championship winner with Surrey insists he is still committed to red-ball cricket, but he is not guaranteed to say yes should England want him to boost their depleted spin ranks on the five-Test tour of India starting in January.
Jacks will compete with Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett (above) for a spot at the top of the order
Jacks has signed up for a second season at the SA20, where he hit a competition-best 19 sixes last year, and makes it clear his priority is earning that place in England’s T20 World Cup squad.
‘I was very hopeful of getting a central contract but there are a lot of talented cricketers out there and I can understand why I didn’t get one,’ he insists. ‘There are numerous fast bowlers and they want to look after them with injury worries.
‘It was disappointing but it does give me freedom. There are a lot of franchises and while nobody likes to talk about it there can be a lot of money involved and it’s a short career. Everything comes into play. The World Cup is a massive one so playing T20 cricket is really important to me at the moment. The way the game and the world is at the moment definitely suits me. I was always a kid who enjoyed whacking it.’
And his ability to whack it will be crucial to England White-Ball Cricket 2.0.
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