Hello there. Yes, it’s me again! After all, it is Friday afternoon with your weekly Joe Denly correspondent, back with another edition of what is and will be for the foreseeable future, a very Denly ‘Canterbury Tales.’
It’s been a very exciting seven days (if you’re a fan of Denly), which we are going to be covering today and it’s set to be another week of thrills for Kent County Cricket Club. Especially those who love Denly, which is all of us. So strap yourselves in, here we go!
This was the ultimatum I served up to you on a silver platter (yes, Vaccines lyrics) at the end of last week’s column.
‘Next Friday, I will be back once again. God, aren’t you getting a bit sick of me spoiling your weekend yet? When hopefully, Denly will have made his first England appearance of any kind since February 2010 and we can look ahead to what will be an incredible debut Test series for ‘No Pants.’
Until next time…’
Well since then, our very own Denly has not just played for England in Sri Lanka once, making his first appearance in over eight years, but he has featured three times!
Do You All Believe Me Now?
For how long have I been banging on about Denly for England? Regular readers will know that I have been doing so for months now and in my head, for years. Longing to see him don the jersey having not featured for his nation since being dropped in winter 2011.
There is a reason for this. I never just select a random Kent player and decided he should play for England, although never put that past me, such is my love for my adopted county (I was born the wrong side of the QE2 Bridge in Essex, shhhhhhh, tell no one).
It’s because the man is simply incredible. There is nothing on a cricket field that he can’t do to a ridiculously high standard. Bat, bowl, you name it. As evidenced by his lorry-load of awards for his efforts over a remarkable summer in Kent. And on Saturday evening in Colombo, he proved this to the wider cricketing world. Showing that eight years out of the international game has made him a better player at the age of 32. Having been called up to both the Test and limited-overs squads for Sri Lanka.
The occasion was the one-off T20 International between the two countries separated by five-and-a-half thousand miles. When Denly got his chance to shine after not featuring in the 50-over matches and took it with a man of the match display.
Lethal With Both
While Denly is more famous for his excellent batting, rather than his leg-spin, which has come on a hell of a long way in the past year, he was lethal with both at the R. Premadasa Stadium. The tourists batted first in another rain-affected match. By the time Kent vice-captain Denly got to the crease, much to the joy of everyone down here in the South East, Eoin Morgan’s men were 145-5 in the 15th over.
Batting with Ben Stokes, it didn’t take long for Denly to find his stride. The highlight of his cameo being three successive fours. Before he succumbed to former Spitfires teammate Lasith Malinga for 20, contributing to his team’s final total of 187-8. He would have been frustrated by the manner of his dismissal. Ballooning one up but Denly would be able to release that frustration in the Sri Lanka innings. And boy did he!
Just the four wickets for him as England secured a convincing victory under Trevor Bayliss, as they had in the ODI series. With Denly taking care of the two openers Dickwella and Kusal Mendis. As well as skipper Thisara Perera and old friend Malinga.
The incredible performance was enough to earn him player of the match and make everyone back home in Kent, including myself, immensely proud. However, none would have been prouder than Kent head coach Matt Walker, who celebrated by putting pen to paper on a new deal. He has guided Kent to promotion back to County Championship Division One, as well as success in the two other competitions in 2018.
Pssssssssssst, It’s Only A Warm-Up
If the stunning display in Colombo, which caught the attention of the entire cricketing world, wasn’t enough to secure Denly’s place in the team for Tuesday’s first Test, he has been given the opportunity in both of England warm-ups for the three match series.
In these two matches, Joe Root’s men have faced a mysterious Sri Lanka Board President’s XI in a pair of two day Tour Matches on consecutive days. How pointless is that? Just make it one four day game lads. At least we get some kind of result then. These are the games that can only really be drawn. Encouragingly, Denly has started high up the order in both, at number three. Although things haven’t exactly gone to plan for him.
In the first innings of the first game, which you guessed it, was drawn, he could make just 25 with the bat. When it was the turn of the home side to bat, he only took a single wicket from his 8.5 over spell. Although he did take two catches.
In the second, which was reduced to one day due to rain yesterday with 50 overs for each team, Denly went for a duck along with Ollie Pope. From the bowling of Sri Lanka international man Lahiru Kumara.
Many will point out though his confidence is still sky high and thus should be given the number three berth come Tuesday morn. And no, the many are not just Kent fans!
Until Next Time…
Well unfortunately, it’s time for Site Lead Alex Whitington to put me back in my cage for a week, laden with pictures of Denly in his England gear all over the walls, or bars, should I say? For another seven days, goodbye.
The next time you hear from me, Joseph Liam Denly could and should be an official England Test player. Oh the excitement of the thought, but we won’t know until stupid o’clock on Tuesday. Who’s crazy enough to stay up? Probably me.
Until next time…