Clarke's stock is rising but it is an England place that he values

Joe Clarke’s stock is rising on the franchise circuit – with wicketkeeper-batsman heading the domestic list in the Hundred draft – but it is playing for England that remains his motivation

  • Joe Clarke was the top overseas run scorer in the 2021-22 Big Bash League
  • He entered the Hundred draft as the Englishman with the biggest reserve price 
  • The 25-year-old was a reserve for England’s recent tour of the Caribbean

Joe Clarke entered the Hundred draft on Monday as the Englishman with the biggest reserve price – but it is international cricket that he values most dearly.

Clarke was vying for a contract of £60,000 or greater in the behind-closed-doors selection process as 25 domestic and 17 overseas places in the second season of the ECB’s 100-ball competition were up for grabs. The full squads will be announced on Tuesday lunchtime.

The 25-year-old is keen to move away from Manchester Originals as he wants to keep wicket, as he did for both Melbourne Stars and Karachi Kings last winter, and competition at Old Trafford comes in the form of Jos Buttler, the man he views as the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world.

Joe Clarke was the top overseas run scorer at the 2021-22 Big Bash League with 419 runs

Clarke’s own stock is rising, though. At the 2021-22 Big Bash League, his tally of 419 runs made him the top run scorer amongst overseas players.

‘I feel like that’s quite a good stage to perform and most of the lads before me, who have gone on to push their names for England in the short-format stuff, have performed in that competition,’ he said.

‘England remains the motivation. If you didn’t think like that, you’re in the wrong game. Everything that I do is always to push for higher honours. It’s something I haven’t achieved yet and I’m desperate to do so.’

On the back of his BBL form, he appeared a good shout to make England’s T20 tour of the Caribbean in January, only for the SOS to go to Harry Brook despite a rotten spell of 44 runs in seven innings for Hobart.

The 25-year-old entered the Hundred draft as the Englishman with the biggest reserve price

‘I don’t know how close I was. There was obviously an element of disappointment. I felt like, at the time, I was playing really well but they went with someone else and that’s out of my control,’ he said diplomatically.

But the uncapped Nottinghamshire batsman was given an indication of where he stands in relation to the Test team when he was named as a reserve for the tour of the Caribbean.

The phone call from Mo Bobat, the performance director, was the first selection communication the uncapped Nottinghamshire player has had since being caught up in a court case involving his former flat mate Alex Hepburn, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2019 after he was found guilty of raping a woman and has since been released.

Neither Clarke nor another ex-Worcestershire player Tom Kohler-Cadmore was arrested, nor suspected of an offence, but both were fined by the ECB, and handed back-dated suspensions for their participation in a WhatsApp group that exchanged offensive messages about women.

Clarke is keen to move away from Manchester Originals as he also wants to keep wicket

The chat with Bobat, Clarke says, has emphasised where he ranks amongst the country’s leading batters. In terms of first-class standings, one thing in particular stands out: of the 41 times he has passed 50, 18 have been transformed into hundreds.

‘I’ve always wanted to play Test cricket. I felt like it maybe got to a stage where I was on this franchise circuit but I didn’t want to get pigeon-holed as a franchise player,’ he said.

‘The reason I didn’t put myself in for the IPL auction was because I want to play Test cricket. That’s always been my main focus. It’s clear guidance: if I score runs for Notts, hopefully I can put my name in the hat.’

Meanwhile, London Spirit – who had first pick in the draft after finishing bottom of the table in 2021 – confirmed Trevor Bayliss will replace the late Shane Warne as head coach at Lord’s. 

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