Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Clarke Surprised And Proud To Earn First England Lions Call-Up

Clarke Surprised And Proud To Earn First England Lions Call-Up

Joe Clarke admits he is proud but surprised to earn his first England Lions call-up for this winter's programme in the UAE.

Clarke and Worcestershire team-mate Ross Whiteley will be part of an England Performance Programme batting and spin camp in Dubai in November and then the squad to face Pakistan 'A' in five T20 matches during December.

Clarke told BBC Hereford-Worcester's Dave Bradley: "It feels very special. When you start off as a cricketer, you want to progress through the system.

"I played England Under-19s and obviously the next step from county cricket is to get yourself on a Lions tour and obviously to further that by playing for the senior side.

"It has been a really proud day.

"I didn't think it would happen at the start of the season. My main reality was if I had a few games for the first team, that would have been a good season for me.

"To be selected for a Lions tour after three quarters of a season is something I didn't really expect.

"It has come as a bit of a surprise."

Clarke added: "Did it help that I've played for the Under-19s? I think it has helped because I've worked with Andy Flower before. He did some stuff with the Under-19s.

"Being in the Under-19s, you meet the guys who are running the Lions programmes and it is good they know of you already and if you do well on the pitch in county cricket, they know you already and what you can do.

"That helped me but overall what they have seen in my performances this summer has been the main aspect I guess."

National Selector James Whittaker watched Clarke in action earlier this month when he scored a century against Sussex at New Road. 

Clarke said: "I think he was there for Sussex. It is always nice to get a hundred in front of that calibre of person."

The 19-year-old is looking forward to working with Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes – named as part of the Lions coaching set-up this winter – on his wicket-keeping skills.

He said: "Will I be keeping wicket? They haven't spoken to me specifically about my role but with Bumpy being involved he said I would be doing some keeping out there.

"I definitely want to do some keeping and I'm really happy he is going out there as well.

"We know each other and work with each other and it will be good to do some keeping practice out there."