Despite a Test debut that saw him return scores of 6 and 17, Joe Denly isn’t giving up hope of establishing himself as a Test opener for England, as this summer’s Ashes edges nearer.
Denly’s maiden appearance in the international red-ball arena saw him feature at the top of the order in place of the discarded Keaton Jennings, but he could do little to halt England’s poor fortunes with the bat, as the visitors succumbed to a crushing ten-wicket defeat in Antigua.
Both of Denly’s dismissals proved disappointing – he toe-edged a wide long hop from Alzarri Joseph for a catch behind in the first innings, before leaving a straight ball from the same bowler in his second dig, his off-stump sent cartwheeling.
Nevertheless, the Kent batsman remains upbeat, and while he is likely to face another pace barrage from West Indies’ quicks in the next Test, he can’t help but admit that he has eye on a spot for this summer’s Ashes.
“Playing in an Ashes series is an absolute dream and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it a little bit,” said Denly.
“Obviously with the opportunity I have in the next Test it is there, but it is important to try and not think about it as much as possible and have a real focus on trying to get a score in this next Test and prove to those guys who think I am a stopgap or makeshift opener that I have got a future as an opener in Test cricket.”
While England’s loss in the second Test put their hopes of a series win to bed, it proved to be a special occasion for the 32-year old Denly, who approached the match in a rather calm manner.
“It was actually pretty relaxed,” he said. “Once Rooty told me there was a flurry of emotions, telling the family and that, but the whole build-up I felt very relaxed.
“That comes from having a taste of it before, it not going to plan, going back to first-class cricket and through rough patches, before coming out the other end. Sometimes you build things up to be something they are not. I was very aware of that going into the Test, so I felt very relaxed.”