Is James Hildreth ready for England?

PUBLISHED: 09:35 10 June 2016 | UPDATED: 09:35 10 June 2016

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The In-cider column asks the question: Is James Hildreth ready for England?

Prior to the Surrey game, there were those of us wondering what James Hildreth has to do to get selected by England.

The 31-year-old former Millfield School student was the country’s leading run scorer in 2015 with 1,758 first class runs, 1,390 of those in the County Championship. He has started 2016 in scintillating form too scoring 564 runs in nine Championship innings, with only Sam Robson of Middlesex scoring more.

Yet it would appear that a much coveted call-up for his country remains a distance away despite this good form.

Although England beat Sri Lanka comfortably, there are still concerns about the higher order, with neither Hildreth’s former Somerset team-mate Nick Compton nor Hampshire’s James Vince exactly grabbing their chance to shine.

It has been Hildreth’s ambition to play for England ever since breaking into the Somerset team in 2003 at the age of 18. When I interviewed him last season he said that, however long he played the game, he would want to play for England.

He joked that when he was in good form the England team was winning. When they were misfiring his own form declined, so he suggested he needed to plan his good form much better.

So can there be an international future for Hildreth? There are some who say his age will go against him, but there are many who made their international bow later in their careers.

The aforementioned Compton was only a few months short of his 30th birthday when he was called up in 2012, the same age as former Somerset coach Dermot Reeve in 1992. In 2005, Shaun Udal was 36 years young when he got the nod, the same age as John Childs in 1988.

And our competitors are not nervous about calling up experienced players with Luke Ronchi making his New Zealand bow aged 34 and Adam Voges a sprightly 35 when the Aussies came calling. So if you are good enough you are young enough and I would suggest that Hildreth’s best years are ahead of him.

And I don’t subscribe to the view that being a Somerset player hinders chances of developing an England career (I would have agreed with that theory in the 90s with players like Rob Turner but not now).

Somerset have been in the limelight for a few seasons and the selectors know all about James. Being a Somerset player did no harm to Marcus Trescothick or Andrew Caddick’s international careers.

Of course some Somerset fans would see any call-up for Hildy as a poisoned chalice, and a Somerset team without our most reliable player does sound a bit scary at the moment.

But we do like to see one of our own develop and grace the world stage and Hildy is Somerset through-and-through having been educated in the county and part of the set-up for 15 years and more.

There are few better sights than Hildy in full flight, he has all the shots and can dominate games often leading from the front for Somerset. Despite his latest setback, maybe it is time to throw him in and give him a go?

A call-up, if it happened, would be long overdue in my mind.

Steve Jennings | The Incider | www.thein-cider.co.uk | Twitter

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