Sam Hain: The England prospect with a better batting average than Virat Kohli

When you have a better List A batting average than Virat Kohli you know you are doing something right.

There are, of course, caveats to Sam Hain’s 50-over average of 59.78, which is the highest of anyone who has had 50 innings or more and over two runs per innings higher than that of Kohli and former Australia batsman Michael Bevan (57.86), who sit joint second on the all-time list.

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Firstly, Warwickshire batsman and England hopeful Hain has played just the 58 List A matches, compared to Kohli’s 282 and Bevan’s whopping 427.

Secondly, none of his innings have come at senior international level, whereas Kohli and Bevan each have well over 200 ODI knocks on their CV, a number that in India captain Kohli’s case continues to climb.

But the bare statistics show that Hain, who turns 25 in July, is flourishing in white-ball cricket and surely must be in the mix for an England debut this summer after being named in an initial 55-man back-to-training group.

Hain could not have done much more at domestic level in his Royal London One-Day Cup appearances for Warwickshire – the right-hander has averaged 60 or above in each of the last four campaigns, topping out at 106.50 in 2018 when he scored a century or a fifty in five of his six innings.

HIGHEST LIST A BATTING AVERAGES

Sam Hain – 59.78 from 56 innings
Michael Bevan – 57.86 from 385 innings
Virat Kohli – 57.86 from 272 innings
Shan Masood – 54.24 from 90 innings
Cheteshwar Pujara – 54.20 from 101 innings

Last term he averaged 77 and struck a career-best 161 not out from 141 balls against Worcestershire and has now managed 10 hundreds and 15 half-centuries in his 56 List A innings to date.

Hain also hit an unbeaten ton for England Lions against a Cricket Australia XI over the winter to anchor his side to a successful chase of 282 during a tour in which they went unbeaten.

England are blessed with players who have superb List A strike rates, headed by Jos Buttler (120.22). The team’s World Cup-winning opening combination, Jonny Bairstow (103.50) and Jason Roy (107.26), also eclipse 100, with Ben Stokes (96.56) and Eoin Morgan (90.94) in the nineties.

Hain is not up with those players in the bludgeoning stakes (86.46), with his role chiefly for Warwickshire and England Lions to be the glue of the innings at No 3. He is more Joe Root than Jason Roy. In fact, there is little between his strike rate and Root’s (86.03).

In a normal summer, Root could be blocking Hain’s path but this, as we all know, is not a normal summer. It’s June and we are still waiting for the first competitive ball to be bowled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

England hope to complete their initial four-month summer programme in three months, with Ireland, Pakistan and Australia all due to tour between the conclusion of the West Indies Test series in July and the end of September. If all do arrive, that’s a lot of fixtures in little time.

Players may end up being exclusive to either red or white-ball cricket over the coming months and with Root Test captain, his No 3 berth could fall vacant for the proposed ODIs against Ireland and Australia. Hain is an obvious candidate to fill the white-ball void.

It was red-ball cricket, though, which England director of cricket and former sport director at Warwickshire, Ashley Giles, reckoned Hain could be playing “within 12 months” when he was quizzed about the batsman in March 2018.

That did not materialise but Hain has rallied from poor red-ball seasons in 2016 and 2017, when he averaged just 22.75 and 15.42 respectively in Specsavers County Championship Division One.

In the Bears’ promotion season in 2018, he averaged over 35, while in their first year back in the top flight, in 2019, he averaged in excess of 50. Only six batsmen in Division One outdid his total of 822 runs – a list headed by team-mate Dom Sibley – and Hain had fewer innings than all of them.

It was while averaging over 50 and scoring four hundreds in the 2014 Championship that Hain first burst on the scene.

During that campaign, he twice broke Warwickshire records previously set by Ian Bell, firstly when he became the club’s youngest Championship centurion (18 years and 336 days) and then when he became the youngest man to score a double ton for the county (19 years and 57 days).

In fact, his form was so impressive it led one of our writers to slot him in at No 5 in his prospective England team for the 2017-18 Ashes down under, against an opposition he could quite easily have been playing for.

Hain was raised in Australia – after being born in Hong Kong to British parents – and wore the gold kit at the 2012 Under-19 World Cup.

However, after being spotted by former Warwickshire captain Michael Powell when in Edinburgh on an exchange scheme, he went to Edgbaston for trials and subsequently won a contract.

Hain described himself as a “fair-dinkum pom” when asked where his allegiances lay after his record-breaking ton for Warwickshire against Northamptonshire in 2014 and he became England qualified in 2016.

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