Joe Denly reveals his career was “fading away” before Test call-up
Joe Denly is back in England recognition after eight years. (Getty Images)

Back in national recognition after a nine-year-long absence, England batsman Joe Denly revealed how he was surrounded by self-doubts ever since he went off radar. Denly represented England in nine ODI and five T20s in which he scored 288 runs but was dropped following a T20I game against Pakistan in 2010.

Denly admitted how being away from international cricket put him in a place where he could not concentrate at all, and that he was putting too much pressure on himself to fight back and play for England again soon.

“I was certainly guilty, when I got dropped from England in 2010, of making everything about getting back in the team,” Denly told ESPNcricinfo. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to go and perform and score runs and get back in as soon as I could.

“And I went missing really for two or three years. My performances dropped. My love of the game dropped quite a bit. I went to Middlesex and had a great time at a great club, but my performances weren’t where I wanted them to be. It was a tough two or three years. It got to a point where I had to start enjoying it again because my career was almost fading away. Thankfully I moved back to Kent, started enjoying my cricket again and then started performing and scoring runs.”

But fortunately for Denly, he received his maiden call for the Test series against Sri Lanka that thwarted away all uncertainties. The experienced right-hand batsman Denly is comfortable batting at the top of the order and has played a pivotal role in Kent’s successful season, which saw them secure promotion to the top-flight of the County Championship this week. He is also a useful leg-spin bowler and will give options to England’s attack in the spin friendly conditions of Sri Lanka.

“I thought it was a long way off, if I’m totally honest,” Denly said. “There’s some very good young players around the county circuit and my name was probably quite a way down the list at the beginning of the season. It was never at the forefront of my mind.

“I’ve a much better understanding of what works for me. I certainly feel much better equipped and have a much better understanding, not just technically but of the pressures that come with it, and dealing with that on and off the field, not beating myself up too much.”

With Alastair Cook retired and Keaton Jennings not in the best of nicks, there is a strong chance that Denly gets a shot at the top with Rory Burns, who also earned his maiden Test call-up, having led Surrey to County Championship in Division One.

“I was quite worried when I was younger about what people thought of me and how I looked. The belief wasn’t quite there. I probably put a bit too much pressure on myself. I probably thought too much about failure. If I had a bad net, I’d let that get to me. And if I didn’t score the runs out in the middle, I couldn’t switch off from thinking about it.

“Now I’m at ease with my game. Of course there’s always room for improvement but there’s certainly that belief there and I really can’t wait to get going.”

The first Test between England and Sri Lanka starts November 6 in Galle.