joe denly
Joe Denly (AFP Photo)

Joe Denly has had a memorable 2018 that saw him being not only crowned as the Players’ Player of the Year at the Professional Cricketers Association awards but also making a return to international cricket after a gap of eight years.

He played in a T20I for England on the Sri Lanka tour, returning with match figures of 4/19 that also saw him being named as player-of-the-match. England recently named an unchanged 16-man squad for the West Indies tour with Denly making it to both the Test and ODI teams.

He’s now in Australia to take part in the Big Bash League where he will ply his trade for the Sydney Sixers.

2019 will be a significant year for England cricket as they host the ICC World Cup and followed by Ashes series. And for Denly too who is eager to add to his nine ODI caps and possibly earn a Test debut too.

“The World Cup and an Ashes series is a pretty big carrot, isn’t it?” Denly told Independent on Wednesday. “If you did need any additional motivation then that should provide it. Not that this group do – we’re flying at the moment.”

While Denly managed to make T20I debut on the Sri Lanka tour, he watched from the sidelines as his teammates clean swept the hosts in a three-Test series. Nevertheless, he is thrilled to have made a memorable return to international cricket.

“I was quietly hoping to be part of one of the squads, if not both, after going out and doing pretty well in that T20 [in Sri Lanka]. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance in the Tests but had I been I was always confident that I could do a good job. Now, I’m delighted to be involved in both. That T20 couldn’t have gone any better – it was a very special kind of comeback. Obviously there was a bit of misfortune for Liam Dawson getting injured but for me to get that call-up and join up with the squad and then get that opportunity was amazing,” he said.

In the Vitality Blast [England’s domestic T20 competition], for scoring 409 runs with a strike-rate of 145.03 and taking 20 wickets at 16.75, Denly was named as the MVP. He also became the first player to score a century and record a hat-trick in the same T20.

“It had been a long time since I’d last played for England and I had always felt I hadn’t done myself justice in the past, in T20 cricket especially. So to put in a performance like that was very satisfying,” he said.

England beat Sri Lanka across formats which proves that they have become dangerous team, reckons Denly. “It was always going to be spin-friendly conditions in Sri Lanka and I think it really showed just how strong this England side is, not just in white ball cricket but in Test cricket now too. To come away from Sri Lanka having won 3-0 is quite incredible,” he said.