England Test captain Joe Root has opted to take a break from international cricket during the upcoming T20I Tri-Series against Australia and New Zealand. With all-rounder Ben Stokes also likely to be unavailable, there could be a vacancy for a batsman who bowls a bit, someone who has been in form whilst playing in the Bangladesh Premier League and Big Bash recently, somebody who has improved dramatically since last floundering in international T20 cricket against Australia. Look no further than another Joe, Kent’s Joe Denly.
In last season’s T20 Blast, the former Middlesex man totalled a whopping 567 runs at an average of 43.62 complete with strike-rate of 150.80. Nobody aggregated more runs than the thirty-one-year-old. The Canterbury native averaged a decent 31.16 at 105.64 for Dhaka Dynamites in Bangladesh before Christmas and has just smashed 73 not out from 45 deliveries for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash, leaving him with a tournament average of 72.00 from four games. He was only dismissed twice during his short Sydney stint. It’s not just the shortest format that Denly has improved at either, last season he averaged 55.48 in the County Championship. The right-hander contributed 1168 runs including four centuries and five half-tons. His domestic career stats aren’t great, generally averaging mid-thrities and neither are his international figures all too impressive: 20 runs in five T20I innings and an average below 30.00 in ODIs.
That was nine years ago however and Denly wouldn’t be the first player to reinvent himself and improve. He’s a useful spin bowling option too and if the England selectors fancied trying the same selection policy as Australia, i.e. picking players on BBL form, then Denly is well worth a shout. If Gary Ballance and James Vince etc can have recall after recall then surely Denly merits another opportunity. Having been included in the Test squad for New Zealand, it could be that Liam Livingstone earns a return to the T20I side and I’d have no qualms about that. Off the back of such form for Denly in Oz though, a recall for the Kent man seems like a no-brainer!