The cricketing winter of 2015-16 will always be associated with Ben Stokes, especially for that astonishing innings in Cape Town – even today, it has been confirmed that he will be the front cover star for the 2016 edition of Wisden.
But Stokes has not been the only big-hitting Durham batsman to make an impression for the Three Lions of England.
Jack Burnham is five years his junior, and has only made four first-class appearances – the first of them a baptism of fire against Yorkshire at Scarborough last August.
However, the tall right-hander has shown why Durham are pretty excited about him, as they were about Stokes a few years ago, by making two centuries in England’s first three games in the ICC Under-19s World Cup – giving him a total of 298 runs at an average of 149 to take into next Sunday’s quarter final.
Burnham was a late arrival in England’s World Cup planning, receiving his first national call-up for the Royal London One-Day Series against Australia last summer.
“I remember it well – David Graveney rang me whilst we were having tea against Stockton,” he said. “It was a good day, because then I went out to bat and got 80 not out.”
As you’d expect for a gifted sportsman from the north-east, Burnham combined cricket with football as a youngster, and remains a keen supporter of Newcastle United. But Durham had spotted his talent as early as the age of seven, soon after he had started playing cricket for Esh Winning – a former mining village where Sir Bobby Robson went to school.
Burnham moved to the nearby Hetton Lyons club in his teens, and for the last three summers he has been playing in the North East Premier League for Durham Academy – identifying John Windows, Alastair Maiden and Geoff Cook as three major influences in his development.
“The big thing that happened last year was the consistency of my scores improved,” Burnham reflected. “I’d never really been a consistent run scorer before.”
Before he started to mix with the senior players at Durham, his cricketing hero had been Andrew Flintoff.
“I always used to want to be Freddie Flintoff, because he was an all-rounder and he could whack it,” he explains.
“But now I’d say Stokesy as well. The way he goes about his business now compared to how he used to be.
“I haven’t played with him that much because he’s away with England now, but I’ve got to know him a bit, and we always have a crack.”
His Under-19s debut was televised, and he scored 33 in a second-wicket stand of 108 with Dan Lawrence as England beat Australia in a day-night match at Derby.
Burnham added 53 off 47 balls in the last match of the series in Worcester, but he struggled for runs in the triangular series against India and Sri Lanka in Colombo before Christmas, and again in England’s warm-up games before the World Cup.
However he has justified the faith of the England coaches in his ability by sharing two more big partnerships with Lawrence, who has become a good friend, in the World Cup wins against Fiji and Zimbabwe – and is now relishing the prospect of Sunday’s quarter final, against the losers of tomorrow’s match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“It’s been a great experience so far, we’re all loving it,” he said.