Denly to fight for Test place
Denly to fight for Test place

Joe Denly has told KSN just how important the First Test of the summer against the West Indies is to both him and Kent team-mate Zak Crawley.

Talking exclusively to us from his hotel room overlooking the Ageas Bowl, Denly told us, “It’s been a very interesting experience being in Southampton for the last week or so. Not a great deal to report I have to be honest – it’s been a lot of milling around in the hotel in between training now the West Indies have been here for a few days, all training has been split.”

“We train in the morning one day and then the following day we train in the afternoon which has been good and the whole preparation to the First Test has been good.”

“Away fromtraining and in between training there hasn’t been too much to do – there’s been a couple of card schools going on and a lot of Netflix!”

“We’re confined to the hotel at the ground when we’re not training – all the England players and staff are located on the top floor and that is our home until this Test match finishes.”

“It’s literally a case of just going down to dinner in the evening and then back to your room or to the team room to play a bit of cards.”

Matchdays will be different as Denly explained. “We can only get ten players at once in each of the dressing rooms on the ground,” he said, “So we’re spread across two changing rooms on the ground level and so it really is a very interesting new experience for us all.”

“The main thing is getting international cricket back on the scene so we’re more than happy to do what we can.”

The England players were involved in an inter squad game at the ground last week and Denly confirmed that it was a welcome return to action ahead of the series.

“It was good to get out into the middle and get some match practice in a match scenario kind of training going again and then get the competitive juices flowing again between batter and bowler and get some times in the legs out in the field again.”

“It was different – I can’t say anything else – I suppose that the extra buzz of the crowd gives you when you’re out in the middle batting – when you’re playing well and hit a boundary and hear the applause go round with the cheers and everything, it was very strange not to have that as a little bit of extra motivation.”

“It certainly gave us a little eye opener as to what to we’re going to encounter – I think we all knew that that was a warm up game and those games can be tough to get motivation and that adrenalin rush you get playing an actual game.”

“I think it will be different as much as there’s not going to be crowds, you’re representing your country at the end of the day and you have to try and get yourself in that frame of mind and try and get into a battle whether it’s getting in a battle with the bowlers that you’re facing and just realising at the end of the day that it’s a Test match for your country.”

“There’s going to be millions of people following the game – it’s the first Test match played in the country since Covid happened and there will be a massive audience watching on the TV. That should give us enough motivation that’s for sure.”

England go into the game with a new skipper as Joe Root is absent to be at home when his wife gives birth. Ben Stokes will be in charge, not that the players have noticed too much difference so far as Denly admitted, “I think we’ll see as we haven’t really noticed too much different in the few days since Joe Root left in the preparation.”

“I think one thing is for sure that both guys are world class performers and have the ultimate respect of every player in the dressing room. Stokesy is a very passionate player who leads from the front in everything he does – he’s a three dimensional player who’s one of our best batters; one of our best bowlers – when he’s got the ball in hand he always seem to make things happen; he’s a very inspiring guy, just the way he works and all the hard work he puts in at training and the performances you see out on the pitch.”

“He’s very inspirational and I have no doubt that he’ll be a great leader for what will only be one Test – for now!”

There is speculation that one of the Kent boys could well make way for Root when he returns for the next game – a fact that Denly accepts. “I think that that could be a fair assumption!” he told us.

“Zak has certainly impressed in his limited opportunities so far – he’s a fantastic young player and I have no doubt that when Rooty comes back in for the Second test, either Zak or myself will miss out and he’ll slide back into the side at number four.”

“I suppose whoever does well in this Test match has got a great chance of keeping their place for the next one at Old Trafford. If I do miss out to Zak, then he’s not a bad guy to miss out to that’s for sure but hopefully I can put a performance in to really stake a place for the next one.”