Joe Denly has been handed an unexpected chance to resume his England one-day career more than nine years after his last cap, following an injury to Liam Dawson.
Denly’s call-up comes after slow left-armer Dawson was ruled out of the remaining three ODI’s against Sri Lanka as well as a stand-alone Twenty20.
He sustained a right side strain while helping England to a 1-0 lead in Dambulla on Saturday and will now fly home rather than continue pressing his case for a place at next summer’s World Cup.
While Dawson muses on the misfortune of breaking down on one of the few trips where England countenance playing three spinners, the resurgent Denly is preparing to seize an unlikely opportunity having made the last of his nine 50-over appearances in October 2009.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) October 15, 2018
The 32-year-old was already due to join the tour for the three-match Test series, his first, but will now arrive in Kandy on Wednesday morning, a matter of hours before the third match of the series.
When he last wore the Three Lions, Denly was a specialist top-order batsman whose wrist-spin was considered strictly part-time – although his solitary over on the international stage did yield the wicket of South Africa captain Graeme Smith.
Yet his bowling has come on to such an extent, with 57 wickets in all formats for Kent last summer, that he has been asked to fill Dawson’s boots.
The Hampshire man’s injury was not the only unwelcome news at nets on Monday, with a cobra discovered by groundstaff lurking near the pavilion at the picturesque Pallekele Stadium.
— Joe Denly (@joed1986) October 9, 2018
If that went largely unnoticed by the squad as they went about their drills, selector James Taylor the only one among the touring party to witness the serpent’s safe collection in a sack, their team-mate’s bad news did not.
“It’s a bit of a shame for Daws. The big thing about him is that he’s a brilliant team man,” said all-rounder Chris Woakes.
“He’s been in and out for quite a while and hasn’t had many opportunities to play. Now, when he looks like he is going to be a shoo-in for that third spinner’s role, he unfortunately gets a bit of a niggle. He’ll be as frustrated as anyone.
“Hopefully, it is not too bad and he can play a part moving forward. He deserves his opportunities.”
Woakes is also mindful about his own fitness ahead of a huge year that sees England host not only the World Cup but an Ashes series.
The Warwickshire man struggled with injuries throughout the domestic season, missing the entire white-ball summer, and has decided against seeking a lucrative deal in Australia’s Big Bash League after the Sri Lanka trip.
“I had a few discussions but I’m having December off,” he said.
“The ECB were open to guys getting cricket. These franchise tournaments can make you a hell of a better cricketer. With the year ahead and the year I’ve had with the odd niggle it’s not going to be for me.”