Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Clarke: Last Twelve Months “could Not Have Gone Better”

Clarke: Last Twelve Months “could Not Have Gone Better”

Joe Clarke admits that 2015 "couldn't have gone better really" as he gears up for his second spell of England Lions cricket this winter.

The Worcestershire wicket-keeper batsman found plenty of positives to take from the pre Christmas tour of the UAE with the Lions even though a quad injury curtailed his involvement in the T20 Series with Pakistan 'A'

He has been part of a training camp for the past week in Dubai – along with Ross Whiteley and Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes – ahead of five 50 over matches with Pakistan 'A.'

Clarke made his comeback today with 24 off 24 balls in a five wicket win for the Lions against the UAE in a warm-up fixture.

The 19-year-old broke into the Worcestershire side mid season – and did not look back with a series of promising performances in the County Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup ahead of his Lions call-up.

Clarke said: "If you had said this time last year, what 'are your aspirations' I'd have said I'll hopefully get one or two first team games at Worcester and then go back out to South Perth and try and do a similar job for them to what I did last winter.

"To be standing here looking forward to this second part of a Lions tour, obviously it couldn't have gone better really."

Clarke was only able to play in the first T20 last month but says he learnt a lot.

He said: "I worked really hard with Bruce French, the wicket-keeping coach. That is something I really wanted to do a lot of.

"That is something I wanted to do a lot of this winter, improve my keeping to further my aspirations of keeping in the first team at Worcester.

"I worked really hard with him, he is a really good coach, we got on really well, and then on the batting front there were quite a few people.

"Graham Thorpe was massive. He speaks a lot of sense. I found him a very good coach. Andy Flower and Julian Wood (former Hampshire player) is the power hitting coach.

"In terms of T20, he was very good for my game.

"When Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) came out, he said how much I had changed, that I could hit the ball a lot further now just from a little change in my technique.

"To be fair, training went really, really well."

Clarke added: "I played the first two warm-up games and did alright. I played the first T20 game versus Pakistan 'A'.

"I kept wicket in the warm-up matches and I was really pleased. Bumpy and Frenchy were really happy with how my keeping looked.

"I took a couple of good catches so I was flying on a massive high to be fair. When the injury came it was a massive spiral after being so high in confidence.

"But now all is good and I'm really looking forward to the 50 over games."