Rikki Clarke is strong off the front foot, with a classy straight-drive. But his international credentials became dubious, after a rapid rise to the top and a sudden halt in 2004. After winning a 2nd XI Championship medal with Surrey in 2001, he picked up a Division One winners' gong the following year, and within 12 months, he had been fast-tracked into the Test team, when Andrew Flintoff withdrew from the Bangladesh tour with a groin injury.
Clarke won the Cricket Writers Club's prestigious Young Cricketer of the Year award in 2002. He became the first Englishman for 31 years to take a wicket with his first delivery in an ODI. After disappointing tours of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, he failed to impress in England's NatWest Series squad, after being called up as cover for the injured Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Flintoff. He slipped off the radar as his bowling form slumped.
Impressive performances during the 2006 season have brought him back in the reckoning. He returned to England against Pakistan in the summer and, despite a poor show with bat and ball he was named in England's squad for the Champions Trophy in October.