It’s Friday! You know what that means, don’t you? It’s your time of the week to hear from me; your weekly Joe Denly correspondent, a new title I’ve warmed to. As I bring you the latest edition of ‘Canterbury Tales,’ your weekly dosage of everything Kent County Cricket Club and for now, Denly.
Have you got the Friday feeling? I know I haven’t. ‘For reasons unknown’ (boom, first Killers reference in ‘Canterbury Tales’ history), but you will soon know why if you hadn’t already guessed.
Last Friday, back when my head was filled with Denly-driven hopes and dreams, I left you with this ultimatum. One of my usual cunning cliff-hangers that leave you tearing your hair out in anticipation of the next edition.
‘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…’
Nothing could prepare me for the horror that would await just four days later. Looking back, I was wrong to tempt fate, but I was very excited and foolish. One thing’s for certain, I wasn’t up at 4:30 AM on Tuesday.
Calm Before The Storm
In fact, I was tucked up in bed as I had heard the news I was dreading but half-expecting, given the luck of Kent players in terms of International selection over the years. Denly had deservedly been selected in all the England squads for Sri Lanka, but it was silly of me to think he would get another thing he deserves; a starting place for the Test series.
It was a calm Monday afternoon. I was having a nice day at work. Well I say at work, I work from home but that’s another story, when I saw the below Tweet and my heart sank…
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) 5 November 2018
My whole world came crashing down. No Denly means no party.
No No No!
The thing that hurts even more is the fact that my county’s very own Denly started at number three in the team prior to the two warm-up matches. Where he largely failed to impress. In two draws with the Sri Lanka Board President’s Xl (or whatever the hell they were called), he had played his way out of the side for the first test and into the role of carrying drinks and being a substitute fielder.
Joe Denly carrying drinks ?
— Jamie (@MinkPhillips) 6 November 2018
Was his Man of the Match performance in the solitary T20 ten days prior to Day One in Galle ignored? Of course, it was. And I was ever so wrong to run with the, ‘who cares about warm-up matches, Joe Root and the selectors and coaches won’t’ line seven days ago.
At the time of writing and without the magnificent Denly, England have cruised to victory against a far-inferior Sri Lanka team by 211 runs. However, even with the fact that Root’s men have claimed a convincing triumph at the Galle International Stadium, there is still hope for Denly in the second test and we will be analysing his case.
The Case For Denly
Time for Joe Denly?
— David Rosier (@putchebub) 8 November 2018
#bbccricket Should have picked Joe Denly. The selectors just pick the same players who have failed before and that is the reason for this mornings shoddy cricket
— Kevin Everden (@kevin_everden) 6 November 2018
Joe Denly couldn’t have done worse.
— David Allen (@djaIndependent) 6 November 2018
— Matt Prior (@MattPrior13) 6 November 2018
As you can see, there are plenty of like-minded people on Twitter who believe Denly should have made his Test debut at number three. One of them, obviously the most notable, is from England wicketkeeping legend Matt Prior. If England don’t listen to him, who are they going to listen to? He’s nothing short of a god.
But the first ship has sailed. Denly’s appearances were limited to training on the outfit and coming on as a substitute fielder. The most degrading role in cricket.
— Joe Denly (@joed1986) 5 November 2018
However, after the performance of the England top batting order, surely he is being considered to fulfil that number three role or even open the batting for the Second Test? At number three, Moeen Ali totted up just three runs in his two innings and could only score a duck in the first. Although with ball in hand he did snaffle 8-136 in the game.
With the exception of Adil Rashid, who is likely to be replaced by Stuart Broad, England’s spinners have shone. Moreover, Ben Foakes will keep his place when and if Jonny Bairstow returns as wicketkeeper. However, Ali’s poor performance is likely to see him pushed down the order. Perhaps leaving room for Denly to get the debut he deserves after a phenomenal summer. Equally, Rory Burns has struggled on his debut opening the batting with just 32 runs to his name. As well as suffering a nasty injury in the field and Denly could take his place in Kandy.
Or unlikely as it sounds with Broad waiting in the wings, Denly might find himself replacing Rashid when he is undoubtedly shafted, to play down the order, more for his bowling. He is more than capable.
Hoping Once Again
So England wrap things up in Galle. Call me mad but it’s been hard to support a Denly-less England. Such is my love for the great man who can do everything on the cricket pitch. I once again find myself in the position of desperately hoping.
For me, it’s all eyes on the early hours of next Wednesday morning at the Pallekele Stadium for the third test. One that will hopefully see England, boosted by Denly, wrap up the series win and climb a couple of places in the Test rankings.
While you’re here, we might as well look ahead and whet your appetite for the next few weeks and months of ‘Canterbury Tales’ as we will be continuing to focus solely on Denly until the end of England’s tour of Sri Lanka at the end of the month.
After that, we should be able to pick right up on that odd T10 tournament in Dubai. In which Kent captain Sam Billings captains the Bengal Tigers. Before bringing you plenty of exciting features and building up to the new domestic season and beyond.
Until Next Time…
Once more, and I apologise profusely I can’t be with you for longer this week, it’s that sad part of the column where I have to say goodbye for another seven days.
As I seemed to jinx Denly’s chances with my closing statement last week, making myself sound like an elected leader carrying out a brave speech I’m not going to say anything on this miserable Friday. Only join us again next week to find out what’s happened with everybody’s favourite cricketer!
Until next time…