Dillon Pennington has set his sights on securing an England Lions spot next winter.
But the initial goal of the 22-year-old paceman is to cement a regular first-team place with Worcestershire CCC.
Pennington burst onto the scene at New Road three years ago in Division One of the County Championship after impressing for England Under-19s in the World Cup.
He earned plaudits from international stars Kane Williamson and Morne Morkel, who played for Yorkshire and that season’s champions Surrey.
Unfortunately, injuries checked his progress the following season, but Bowling Coach Alan Richardson and former paceman Paul Pridgeon – now the Cricket Steering Group chairman – helped iron out any technical problems.
Pennington returned last summer with 11 wickets in four matches in the Bob Willis Trophy and is looking to continue to progress further in 2021.
He said: “I am starting to feel that I should be moving on a little bit and have thought about what I need to be doing to challenge for higher honours in terms of next winter, maybe aiming for some England Lions spots.
“That is my target, and to keep building towards that. I got selected for the England under-19s and did okay, and then I broke into the Worcestershire team.
“But my initial plan is to try and cement a spot in the Worcestershire side. I’ll be in the mix with some excellent, competitive bowlers of similar ages, all of which are very talented cricketers.
“It will be a tough challenge to cement that spot but, if I manage that, then hopefully those Lions spots will come if I can take as many wickets as I can and keep pushing myself to get better.”
Pennington played eight Championship matches in his initial breakthrough year.
He said: “I had a nice entrance into professional cricket, and that year (2018) went quite well. I had an injury that second year, which set me back a little, and I wasn’t at my best. My action was all over the place, I wasn’t bowling that well, and I didn’t take many wickets.
“I was left out for the last game of the season, and then I did a lot of work with Alan Richardson and Paul Pridgeon to sort out a few bad habits which had crept in with the ankle injury.
“I started to move the ball away again and felt like I was back to my best and at my most confident. That is when I can bowl with a nice rhythm, not having to think about it too much, and hopefully, this year, I can keep building on that.
“I think I was a little bit better as a bowler last year than I was in the first year, and I want to keep improving.
Pennington was part of a pace attack that helped put Worcestershire in contention to reach the Bob Willis Trophy’s final until the last afternoon of the 2020 group stages.
He said: “I did the job that Joe (Leach) wanted me to do. He wanted a powerful bowler who would run in all day, and I want to keep moving forward in my development.
“But I’ve got to have a thought process that it’s in the here and now, and the wickets will come if I keep doing the right things.
“I want to get a first-class five-for as soon as possible, and it will come if I keep putting good spells together.”
Pennington is looking forward to the pre-season programme.
He said: “It will be good to get match practice, miles in the legs and bowl as many balls as I can. I’ve been trying to do that this winter as well. The more I bowl, the better rhythm I will be in to get picked for that first game.