This isn’t specifically about Joe Denly. He’s just the example. It’s about being a young English cricketer and what you have to do to play for the national side. It’s also about Australia’s wicketkeeper, Tim Paine.
Paine and Denly are just starting their careers and have been opening the batting for their respective nations in the one-day series between England and Australia. Paine hit one hundred and one fifty in seven innings. Denly hit two fifties in five innings.
Honours pretty much even – Paine perhaps slightly ahead – but it shouldn’t really be like that. Paine is a wicketkeeper primarily and arguably Australia’s fourth choice in that position. Denly is a specialist batsman and has been identified as a key player for the future.
How to get noticed
How do young cricketers make themselves known? They do it through consistent, solid performance, don’t they?
Do they balls. Not in England anyway.
There are 18 first-class counties playing every week, so there are about a hundred batsmen fighting for column inches in newspapers that have half a page at most devoted to county cricket. One 95-ball hundred on a flat track is far more likely to get you a mention than three consecutive fifties on difficult pitches.
There’s always another chance
If you can make some noise by playing such an innings, then you’ve got to go for it. If you fail, it doesn’t matter because there’s always the next match. This season, Joe Denly’s Kent side will have played 16 first-class matches, eight 50-over matches, 12 Twenty20 matches and eight 40-over matches.
In contrast, Paine’s side, Tasmania, have 10 first-class matches, 10 50-over matches and five Twenty20 matches next season. There isn’t always another chance for Paine and even if there were, he doesn’t need to make a name for himself in the same way as Denly. There are only six first-class sides in Australia, so you don’t need occasional exceptional performances to get noticed. Consistency is noted.
So our two points, which are closely linked, are:
- A high volume of domestic cricket on any given day encourages batsmen to go for broke in a bid for attention
- A high frequency of matches encourages a ‘there’s always next time’ mentality
Neither makes for good preparation for international cricket.