Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Clarke Aiming To Impress With Lions And County To Boost England Chances

Joe Clarke wants to be “knocking on the door” for an England call-up via strong performances for the Lions and Worcestershire during the next few months – after having his first taste of senior international cricket.

Clarke admits playing for England in the friendly match against a Cricket Australia X1 – and giving the selectors a “glimpse” of his ability in scoring 45 – was the personal highlight for him of the Lions training camp in Australia before Christmas.

The 21-year-old has never made a secret of his burning ambition to play for his country and he has been a Lions regular for three successive winters.

Now he is hoping an impressive tour of the West Indies with the Lions – the players fly out from Gatwick today (Wednesday) – and scoring lots of runs for Worcestershire in Division One of the Specsavers County Championship this summer will enhance his chances.

Clarke said: “To play with some of the (England) boys who were on that (Ashes) tour, to be selected in that game and be seen as one of the batters who they wanted to have a look at, and get a nice score, although it should have been more, was good for me.

“To show a glimpse of what I can do, spend some time at the crease in front of the England coaches, was the highlight of the trip for me personally I would say.

“Did it whet the appetite for more? In terms of getting called up, you want it to be you. I know I’ve got to perform on this Lions tour and get some good scores and, on top of that, have a good start to the season for Worcestershire, put my name in the hat that way.

“With going up last year, Worcestershire finishing as champions, to have the opportunity with the Lions again, where there are competitive games, to come back and play Division One cricket, which is massive, makes me think this could be a real big opportunity with England.

“I want to be knocking on the door as best as I can. But it is all about performing. England is the end goal, and you work as hard as you can to achieve that, but it is all about getting scores and then seeing what happens.”

Clarke also played in the Lions three T20 games against the 2017 Big Bash champions Perth Scorchers.

He said: “You were facing people like Mitchell Johnson and Adam Voges and so many other international players.

“I would have liked to have scored some more runs but it was a great experience for me.”

Clarke’s winter in the Caribbean will continue in March when he is part of the North squad to face the South in the three match 50 over series.

He said: “There is a bit of rivalry and it is an opportunity to get one back on those Southerners! (after the North lost 3-0 in 2017).

“It is a good competition, the standard is excellent, and some of the people who did well in those games last year went onto play for England. Again, with a few good games in that, you could be knocking on the door.”