Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

Read Joe Clarke’s Regular Blog For The

Read Joe Clarke’s Regular Blog For The

Joe Clarke is writing a regular blog for this summer and here is the latest instalment including news of the injury which has ruled him out of the final two England Lions matches in the Tri-Series with Pakistan 'A' and Sri Lanka 'A'.

Joe writes: The week had been going pretty well – two wins out of two with England Lions, and a few runs in the first game in Cheltenham.

Then I felt a pain in my side when I was warming up with the Rapids for our Blast game at Derby on Friday night.

The physio knew straight away that would be me out of the last two Lions games as well – and we lost at Derby, which means we can’t qualify for the quarter finals, which is a big disappointment to everyone at the club after we made such a good start in the competition.

But looking on the brighter side, hopefully I won’t be out too long – and I’ve really enjoyed the experience of being with the Lions again, working with the coaches, and pulling on that England shirt. I think for all the lads it’s been a real mid-season tonic in the middle of such a hectic time with our counties.

It was a surprise when I got picked for the England Performance Programme and the Lions games against Pakistan A in Dubai last winter.

That meant I had a better idea of what to expect this time – and it was great to see the lads again. We spent a lot of time together in the winter and formed quite a tight unit. I’d rate Tom Curran as one of my best mates in the game now even though he plays for Surrey.

We’ve stayed in pretty close touch, and I’ve been keeping a close eye on how he does – and I think he’s the same with me.

We had a few problems working out the directions between us when we had to get from Cheltenham to Northampton on Wednesday for the second game in the series – his fault, obviously.

But hopefully we can enjoy a few more experiences together in international cricket in the years to come.

In terms of the games, Cheltenham was a good place to start the series from my point of view, because it’s a lovely ground and I’d scored runs there before, for Worcestershire’s second team last summer.

Pakistan A came into the game with the advantage of having beaten Sri Lanka there the previous day, but our bowlers set things up on a good batting pitch – especially TC and Mark Wood.

To get them three down in the powerplay means you’re a long way towards winning the game.

This has been my first experience of Woody, and he’s made a big impression – on and off the field. In terms of his bowling, both in Cheltenham and Northampton, he’s just shown international quality, taking big wickets in each game to keep us on top.

As a lad, he’s been brilliant. He’s come into the Lions as an international player, making his way back after injury.

But he’s just a breath of fresh air around the dressing room, so funny. He always seems to be happy and that rubs off on everyone else – he’s so upbeat that it’s impossible not to be when he’s around.

Definitely the type of bloke you want in a dressing room – I reckon that’s a big reason why he went so well in international cricket when he had the chance last year. In terms of our batting, at Cheltenham little Benny Duckett was unbelievable.

We know each other pretty well as we were the two wicketkeepers in the England squad for the Under-19s World Cup in Dubai a couple of years ago.

So I knew all about his talent, but I hadn’t seen him bat before as well as he did against Pakistan. He showed everyone the type of player he is now.