Luke Wright is the Duracell bunny of English cricket. His energy and enthusiasm seems boundless, whether he is smiting sixes with intent in one-day cricket, fielding with athleticism or producing a spell of bustling medium pace which never appears to be quite as fast as he wants it to be. He has always had ambitions to play Test cricket, but he has never quite managed to make the leap. It is the limited-overs game that suits his talents and, if he is a reluctant Twenty20 specialist, it is the form of the game where his talents are most apparent.
That Test debut was never closer than when Andrew Flintoff retired from Test cricket after the 2009 Ashes series. He was called up to England's Test squad for the first time for the winter tour of South Africa. Geoff Miller, England's chairman of selectors, remarked: "The retirement of Andrew Flintoff has created a vacancy for an allrounderâ€¦ we believe Luke can make an impact at Test level." Wright was expected to play in the first Test, but England decided upon a policy of six specialist batsmen.
Wright represented England Under-19s, won the Denis Compton medal four times and scored a century on his Championship debut for Sussex. He spent two winters at the National Academy based at Loughborough University, where he was right at home having studied Sports Science and Sports Massage there. He was also a key part of the Sussex team that won the C&G Trophy in 2006. The following year he smashed his maiden domestic Twenty20 Cup century, scoring 103 from only 45 balls against Kent at Canterbury. Although Sussex were defeated in the semi-finals, Wright finished as the highest run scorer in the competition with 346 runs.
That captured England's attention. A whirlwind century for England Lions against the New Zealand tourists even brought loose talk of a Test debut. Instead, he was selected in the ODI team at The Oval later that summer, hitting 50 on debut against India although he drifted out of the one-day set-up following the 2011 World Cup with his bowling never quite strong enough to hold down a fifth bowler's spot. He careered up and down the batting order more than was good for him.
Wright performed admirably in England's World Twenty20-winning team in 2010. He contributed 90 runs in significant circumstances during England's successful campaign, and though he bowled only one over in the tournament, it was a pivotal one - he got rid of the in-form Cameron White in the final against Australia. He was also one of England's most combative performers in a less impressive campaign in Sri Lanka in 2012, his unbeaten 99 against Afghanistan in Colombo coming desperately close to making him the first England batsman to hit a T20 hundred. An injury ruled him out of the 2014 event in Bangladesh and when he was quietly omitted from England's squads at the start of Peter Moores' second term in charge his international prospects looked bleak.
He has also been in demand around the world for domestic T20 tournaments, playing for Melbourne Stars in Australia's Big Bash and Pune Warriors at the IPL. A sparkling 44-ball hundred against Hobart Hurricanes in the inaugural Big Bash League in 2011-12 was the fastest at that point in Australia's domestic competition. England's reversal of their international calendar in 2014, with the season beginning with one-day cricket, did not promote his cause at the IPL, where he did not attract a bid and, consigned once more to the start of a Championship season at Sussex, described his fate as "woolly hat time."
Wright's T20 skills were still evident, though. He smashed an unbeaten 153 with 11 sixes - at the time the fourth highest ever T20 score - as Sussex, who made 226 for 3, pulled off a world-record run chase with nine balls to spare. All the more remarkable as Sussex's players had been stuck in traffic approaching Chelmsford and Wright had joked on Twitter that any Sussex fan in the vicinity made like to open the innings.
Sussex's valuation of his energy and optimism led them to give him the T20 captaincy in 2015 and follow up with leadership in all formats for the following season only for him to be afflicted by injury in a generally below-par season. Captaincy did not suit him and he resigned midway through 2017, stating that the responsibility had drained the enjoyment from his game and affected him on and off the field.
Wright ended his long stint as a Melbourne Stars player in the Big Bash in 2018, slightly prematurely after a bout of concussion. The club referenced a "stellar career", involving 57 matches and 1,479 runs. That he still had much to give, however, was apparent at Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston later that year when his 53-ball 92 against Glamorgan in the semi-final set up his 300th T20 appearance in the final, Sussex being unable to deliver a trophy to mark it as they fell to Worcestershire. He continued to churn out short-form runs in partnership with Phil Salt at the top of the Sussex order over the next two years, and returned to the Stars as a batting consultant.