Like Phil Neville before him, Ben Chilwell has proved cricket’s loss has been football’s gain.
As a teenager, the left-back had to choose between bat and boots and, despite being “probably better at cricket than I was at football”, he chose the Beautiful Game.
“I wasn’t really enjoying cricket as much,” Chilwell explained. “They were long days and often with people who weren’t really my friends.
“It’s just not the same dynamic as football and while I probably wasn’t as good at football, I just preferred it and it went from there.”
Going from being a better cricketer than footballer to England’s starting left-back in their last two matches is quite some rise, and it’s all happened in just a handful of years.
Moving on up
Speculation on Alberto Moreno’s future has reignited rumours of Liverpool’s interest in the Leicester City left-back. It would make sense – almost in the mould of Liverpool’s duo, Chilwell is one of the most attacking full-backs in the league.
He sets up a shot from open play every game as well as completing two successful take-ons. He is also one of Leicester’s primary weapons in getting the ball up the pitch.
After James Maddison, Chilwell makes the most towards-goal passes in the final third on Leicester’s team, with 7.75 per 90 minutes.
For an attacking full-back, his crossing could be improved. No-one will find a teammate every time, but just too few of them make it into good areas.
However, he’s not a player fans would prefer to be off the pitch than have the ball at their feet in a crossing position, which is more than you can say for a lot of full-backs.
Given that he’s still only 21, the fact that there’s still some work to do defensively isn’t necessarily too worrying – no-one is the finished article at that age.
Chilwell is capable enough but doesn’t look like the kind of defensive player that opposition wingers would worry much about playing against.
Being fine defensively while being an important outlet offensively is a great base to start from though, and he has another, slightly unusual, string to his bow.
Chilwell is physical enough to be an outlet for Leicester long balls and wins 2.87 aerial duels per 90 minutes, which is the fourth-highest rate of any Premier League defender.
Leicester might be using this when they have the ball but, with full-backs increasingly becoming a third centre-back when a cross is delivered from the opposite flank, it is a useful skill to possess.
Many a far-post goal has been scored by a striker getting the better of a full-back who’s little more than a warm body defensively in the box. But Chilwell doesn’t look like he’ll be caught out that way.
Starting for Leicester City and making his first steps in the national team is exactly the level that Chilwell is at but, if he keeps going on his current trajectory, he could have the Three Lions left-back spot wrapped up for a decade to come.