there’s a lot to say john turnerCall-up for England’s four-match T20I series with New Zealand. But perhaps the most relevant jumping off point is the speed at which this latest speed genius has been fast-tracked.

There were only 70 days between his debut in the format for Hampshire – Took 3 for 30 against Middlesex – and on Tuesday national selector Luke Wright called to inform him of his selection. the middle part is packed; 21 Vitality Blast wickets, balls above 90 mph, an impact on England scouts, and a Hundred debut on Monday In which he dismissed Johnny Bairstow for the first time for Trent Rockets. Life rarely goes slow for a 22-year-old, but even Turner admits the rapid progress of the last two months has been “incredible”.

It was certainly the case for her parents, who live in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Turner was born. He holds a British passport through his mother, who was born in Zambia to English parents – his own father was working for the British government at the time. When Turner called in disbelief, the two thought something was wrong, before worrying that someone was playing a dirty joke on their son.

Turner says, “When I told him he was shocked, he had no words… I probably had the same reaction when Luke Wright called me.” “They were shocked but obviously at the same time they were also really proud and they were really happy.”

Turner had a vague idea that something like this was going to happen. Hampshire’s director of cricket Giles White and bowling coach Graeme Welch alerted him that a national scout would be watching him against Sussex.He took 2 wickets for 30 runs, England’s interest increased last year after Turner took 20 wickets in the 2022 One-Day Cup. Good pace, and surprising bounce from a high release point, meant Turner’s name was added to a list of potential talents last month as soon as he completed the residency period required to meet the ECB’s selection criteria.

That period began in late 2020 when the UK reopened its borders after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Turner himself believes that the strange era in which life came to an abrupt halt may have been a factor in convincing his father whether he could succeed in the sport.

“It took a lot of convincing for them to allow me to come here and play cricket,” says Turner. “Maybe it was during Covid when my father said, ‘You know what, go ahead, try it – if it’s a year or two and it doesn’t work, that’s okay.’ Then maybe end of 2021, 2022, when they start to realize that I might actually be good enough to make cricket a profession.”

Part of Turner’s agreement was to attend the University of Exeter to study economics and finance through curricular insurance. Now the progress of his extracurricular activities has created some uncertainty over his third year, which was due to start in September.

The transfer to the UK came with no guarantees, but was far from a risk. Gloucestershire’s current coach Dale Benkenstein was Turner’s head of cricket at Hilton College in South Africa, and had connections to Hampshire following his stint as the club’s head coach. “He was a link and he put us in touch,” Turner explains. “While at school I spent two weeks in Hampshire to see what professional cricket was like and they watched me. And from then on, they were always interested.”

He initially joined Hampshire as a trialist for the first half of the 2021 season, before moving into the staff around the Royal London Cup in the summer. In the same competition he took his first professional wicket – none other than Sir Alastair Cook, caught at midwicket.

“Maybe it’s not my biggest balls,” he jokes. Still, it remains a favourite, although Monday is now offering competition: “The other night Jonny Bairstow, top off, was very good. Whenever I hit the stumps, I enjoy it – anything off the stumps.” concerned and they fly out into the field.”

Stumped outside the ground, the calling card of the fast bowler. Except that Turner doesn’t have the ego of a full-fledged fast bowler like Dale Steyn, who he idolises. Partly because pushing the speed gun into the eighties and beyond is also a new development.

“That’s a good question,” when asked when he became aware of his speed, he replied, “because I still struggle with thinking that I am [quick],

“I think it’s probably early this year; action-wise everything has gone well. I had good pace last year and the year before that, but pace-wise nothing to get me selected.” I worked a lot with Graeme Welch, my bowling coach at Hampshire – we did a thing or two action wise and I think the timing and all that has come to fruition now, and everything is clicking .

Even in the shortest format these stupendous performances are a bit surprising. Turner’s metronomic ability to hit length – Benkenstein often compares him to Australian great Glenn McGrath – meant he was always chosen for the red ball. To date, he has played only three first-class matches, against the Sri Lanka Development XI last year, and two County Championship fixtures this summer, taking 10 wickets at 10.50 in total. Naturally, the appetite is there to establish itself across formats.

“Going back to what Dale Benkenstein said, he never saw me as a white-ball player and I probably never saw myself as a white-ball player. So Hampshire got their first T20 Making it into the team, that wasn’t really the goal for the season. It was more of a red-ball thing. And now for England, it’s obviously something I’ve never seen coming. But I think in the long term I will look into all formats.”

According to his own assessment, extra bounce, hitting the bat harder than other players and accuracy – that is, the ability to catch specific balls at the start and end of an innings – have worked well for him so far. and clearly longing for difficult moments, which Turner explains as a desire to “make a difference”.

“I think I enjoy pressure situations quite a lot, for example, the Hundred game the other night, given the ball to bowl in the last set, I really enjoyed it. Strangely, I was in that position. Feeling really calm, much calmer than I thought I would have done it.”

Perhaps at any other time, Turner would not have been included in the England squad so soon. These T20Is have a dual purpose: to prepare for those included in the 50-over World Cup squad ahead of reducing their workload in September, while also giving them a chance to assess England’s bench strength, particularly their pace options such as Turner , fellow uncapped paceman Gus Atkinson. And more established names like left-handers Luke Wood, Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills have been overlooked for the time being.

Of all the aspects of contingency that Turner’s story presents, none of it happened by accident. His rapid rise is the result of hard work, exposure and abundant talent. If anything it is England who should consider themselves lucky.


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