James Wharton has in the past been likened to Joe Root. The comparisons were obvious when then young batter, then aged 19, made his debut in a T20 Roses at Headingley during late 2020. Since then, he has begun to forge his own reputation as one of Yorkshire brightest batting hopes.
Wharton still has a way to go given he has only played 15 first-team matches across all formats.
But the Huddersfield-born right-hander, now 22, has shown some extremely encouraging signs and hopes to significantly advance his development with a strong Metro Bank One-Day Cup campaign over the next few weeks.
This season, right-handed Wharton scored his first and only Championship fifty in the season opener against Leicestershire.
More notably, he crashed a brilliant unbeaten 111 off just 56 balls in the Vitality Blast batting at three in a win over Worcestershire at Headingley in early June.
But it is not the only innings he wants to be remembered for in 2023.
“I really enjoyed that night, and it’s not one I’ll forget,” he said. “But I want to do more. I would love to contribute to us winning this one-day competition. That’s what will be remembered.
“I remember watching England win the World Cup in 2019, and all the grounds and pubs were full. Everybody was glued to it. Winning this competition isn’t quite like winning a World Cup, but for us it wouldn’t be far off.
“It would be an unbelievable thing for the club.”
Wharton is a tall batter who strikes the ball crisply. In that Blast century, he hit particularly well long and straight.
Wharton batted at number six and was one not out in Tuesday’s narrow rain-affected defeat against Kent at Scarborough and was robbed of a second opportunity when today’s Roses game against Lancashire was washed out at the same venue.
The Kent game was his List A debut, with him injured for the last two campaigns.
“I really enjoy playing 50-over cricket, which I’ve done a bit of at club level more than coming through with Yorkshire,” he continued.
“T20 is good and fun. But 50-over cricket is a full day and a bit more of a test of skill. In T20 cricket, luck can be involved. Someone can come off for 20 balls and get 50. That can happen in this format, but it’s less of a match-winning knock.
“It’s 300 balls, and someone could get a double hundred.”
Wharton continued: “This is a competition we all really looking forward to because, with quite a young squad, there’s lots of opportunities to be had over the next month or so.
“For all of the young lads who’ve only played a handful of games, it’s a great chance for us to go out there and have fun, to express ourselves really.
“But, as much as we want to have fun, we also want to win.”
Whether the Vikings win the title or just win a few games over the next few weeks, Yorkshire’s members and supporters will get a view of the county’s future.
All being well, the likes of Wharton, Fin Bean, Harry Duke, George Hill, Matthew Revis and Dom Leech to name just a few will underpin the county’s future pursuit of silverware.
“We’re a group of young lads who’ve played together for years,” said Wharton. “We’ve known each other since we were 10, 11, 12. We’re taking the field as mates and not just team-mates.
“It’s exciting. Hopefully in four or five years, we’ll be the senior boys of the side when we’re 26 or 27. But we have to do well now, to fight for our places and win games for the county.”
And beyond the One-Day Cup, Wharton added: “When I get my chance in red ball, it’s really key that I take it.
“I’ve not played a lot this year, I’ve had a few innings here and there. When my chance comes, I’ve got to be ruthless and take it.
“First game of the season, I got 50 against Leicestershire and spooned one up in the air. That’s where I’ve got to be ruthless to make sure you can’t get dropped – or if you do, you’re very unlucky.”
Yorkshire are next in 50-over action against Nottinghamshire Outlaws at Trent Bridge on Saturday (11am).
ARTICLE: ECB Reporters Network, By Graham Hardcastle