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‘My best years are ahead of me’ – Joe Denly

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Recalled England batting all-rounder Joe Denly insisted his best years are ahead of him as he joined the tour of Sri Lanka earlier than planned.

The 32-year-old was included in the Test squad for November’s series, but was called into the squad for the ongoing ODI series as cover for the injured Liam Dawson, and will be available for selection in the last two matches.

Having last played for England in early 2010, Denly enjoyed a remarkable 2018 campaign for Kent, adding leg-spin wickets to his batting capabilities and catching the eye of national selector – and his former Kent teammates – Ed Smith.

“I know I’m 32 now, but for me that’s just a number, I feel as ready as I ever have and I still think my best years are ahead of me,” he told talkSPORT.

Asked if he had thought his international chances were over he replied: “The thought never came into my mind. If I wasn’t selected it would have been a case of trying to get better and trying to improve on my performances.

“Hopefully there’s lots more runs and wickets to come.”

Denly was handed an international debut back in 2009, hitting a 111-ball 67 against Ireland in Belfast. He acknowledges that the game has evolved dramatically since his nine ODIs and nine T20Is.

“It has changed, it was a long time ago when I was last involved and a lot’s happened since then,” he said.

“White-ball cricket especially has developed and changed, the way people approach it. There’s some steady players and some steady teams around, none more so than England.

“Watching the England team develop over the last few years, watching them rise to No 1 in the world you think it’s going to be a tough gig to get involved.

“It’s my training session tomorrow so there’s a chance there to try and make an impact, but the team is playing brilliant cricket and are on the back of two very good wins. It’s up to me to stake a claim where I can.”

England won the third ODI comfortably in Pallekele to take a 2-0 series lead, with Tom Curran impressing in Dawson’s stead. But Eoin Morgan may be keen to hand Denly an opportunity to impress as England look to cover all bases in their squad for next year’s World Cup.

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