John Turner aiming to push T20 World Cup hopes on England’s tour of Caribbean

By Sports Desk November 29, 2023

John Turner is bidding to push his case for a spot in England’s T20 World Cup title defence during the upcoming tour of the Caribbean.

Turner made his T20 bow less than six months ago but flourished for Hampshire in the Vitality Blast with 21 wickets in 11 matches, leading to a maiden England call-up towards the end of the summer.

A side strain delayed his debut but England remain keen on the 22-year-old and named him in both white-ball squads to face the West Indies, who will co-host the 2024 T20 World Cup alongside the United States.

His selection next summer would be a surprise given those ahead of him in the pecking order, but a woeful 50-over World Cup means England’s established players cannot take their places for granted.

Having been fast-tracked into the England set-up, though, Turner – born and raised in Johannesburg – is trying to take everything in his stride ahead of a potentially pivotal next few weeks in his career.

“All I can do is give my best performances and make life hard for the selectors when it comes to the time for the World Cup – but it definitely does give me some focus,” Turner told the PA news agency.

“Naturally after a World Cup, there will be some form of change – some years more than others. There’s quite an exciting crop of players coming through. It’s quite an exciting time for English cricket.

“Obviously the World Cup was massively disappointing for everyone but, with disappointment, it opens the door for new opportunities and new ways for things to be done.”

Turner, who qualifies for England through a Zambian mother born to English parents, is looking to be a point of difference among fast bowlers with Jofra Archer and Mark Wood absent in the Caribbean.

He describes his pace as his biggest asset even though his action by one former coach was likened to Glenn McGrath, whose precision control of line and length made him one of all-time great fast bowlers.

“It’s obviously an unbelievable comparison to have,” Turner said. “If I was half the bowler he was, I think I’m doing very well.

“I’m not necessarily a traditional English bowler that’s going to try to swing it away and nick you off, I’m just going to try and hit a hard length, be consistent there and bowl as fast as I can.

“I’ve got some variations. During the season, I didn’t necessarily go to them as much as I would have thought, but I’ve got some things to go to when I’m under the pump.

“So far the ride for me has been really positive. It could go horribly wrong but having the backing of everyone and particularly England at the moment gives me massive confidence.”

Turner grew up idolising South Africa great Dale Steyn and sees a bit of the fiery former quick in himself.

“The way he bowled with the aggression, the pace, the ability and everything… he wore his heart on his sleeve and that’s something I probably do, to a certain degree,” Turner said.

Turner has spent the past couple of weeks on an England Lions winter training camp in Abu Dhabi but could make his international bow as part of a new-look ODI side in Antigua on Sunday.

“It would be really emotional and a massive day for me,” Turner added, when asked about the prospect of a first England appearance on this trip.

“Growing up, you’re always wanting to play international cricket and on the biggest stage in the world – that’s what this is. Hopefully just the start of quite a long journey.”

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