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‘Hopefully, I have impressed the selectors’ – Denly reflects on gritty 94

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

England opener Joe Denly expressed his disappointment at missing out on a maiden Test century, but was pleased with his overall performance on day three of the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval.

Denly’s patient 94 guided England to a position of strength. The right-hander combined with Ben Stokes to put on a 127-run stand for the third wicket to consolidate England’s hold on the game, as the hosts went into stumps at 313/8, leading by 382 runs.

“It would have been nice to get to that milestone today, having worked so hard, but England are in a good position. Hopefully, I have impressed the selectors,” Denly said.

“Whenever you open the batting, there is expectation to score runs and do well. It’s been frustrating to get starts and not be able to capitalise. I felt very good today.”

The 33-year-old further spoke about the tough challenges posted by the strong Australian bowling unit. “It’s a very good bowling attack we’re coming up against. This Australian attack is certainly up there and make you work hard for every run,” he said.

Denly batted at No.4 in the first three games of the series, before he replaced the out-of-form Jason Roy as Rory Burns’ opening partner in the fourth Test in Manchester. He was a lone star with the bat in the second innings at Old Trafford, top-scoring with 53 as England were bundled out for 197, going down by 185 runs.

Having scored his third fifty of the series, and second as an opener, Denly is happy to bat at any batting position for his team.

“Wherever Rooty [Joe Root, the England captain] asks me to bat, I don’t think I’m in a position to demand where I want to bat. To be playing for England is a privilege, certainly at my age. I didn’t think I’ll be here a couple of years ago, so to get the opportunity is very special. And if that opportunity [to open] presents itself again in the future, then I’d be happy to do it.”

Denly, who had joined his wife Stacy for the birth of their second child on Thursday, talked about the special experience.

“I was in Derby, batting overnight and got a call at about five in the morning,” Denly said, recalling the birth of his first child in 2016, when he was playing a county game for Kent against Derbyshire. “She said I think the baby is on the way, but the midwife said don’t rush, so I didn’t.

“I strolled down, had some breakfast, hit rush hour traffic on the way back and missed the birth by about five minutes.”

Luckily, Denly made it the second time around. “I had a good kip last night because I stayed at the hotel and got about 10 hours,” he said. “The previous night, I got about three hours.”

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