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All-rounder Stevens gives his thoughts on earning England Lions selection

Sunday 20th June 2010

After a scintillating start to the season, Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens (pictured) has finally seen his talents recognised by the national selectors as he was today, alongside county team-mate James Tredwell, selected in the England Lions squad to take on India A and West Indies A in a triangular one-day competition, starting on 28 June.

The 34 year-old has been a key figure in all forms of the game since his move from Leicestershire and the powerful hitter couldn“t hide his delight at the long overdue call-up: “Anything to do with England is very special and I cannot wait to get involved. It is an honour to play for your country and I would love to play for England so I see this as a stepping stone. I“ve always wanted to play for the national side; hopefully I can carry on my good form and earn selection.”

The Lions team will be captained by regular senior side opener Alastair Cook and also includes England Test-match number three Jonathan Trott, proving that a place in the second-string line-up can lead to a senior call. Stevens, is looking forward to showcasing his ability: “I hope I will get lots of involvement. Geoff Miller (England“s National Selector) called me and we had a good chat. He discussed my bowling and asked me a good few things about my game and my aspirations. He asked me why I was getting runs this year and we discussed my desire to play for England. I told him that I really want to play for my country. I“ve had the opportunity to go on an England A tour but I feel in the form of my life and hope that I will now be able to break into the full England squad.”

Stevens currently heads the LV= County Championship Division One batting averages with 81.11, after striking four centuries in the first-half of the season. He has also continued to prove himself as one of the best Friends Provident t20 performers on the circuit with 212 runs at an average of 53, in this year“s competition. He has also excelled with the ball in the shortest form of the game, already taking eight wickets with a meagre economy rate of 6.73. Kent“s key performer this term believes increased mental strength has aided his fine form: “I didn“t really change too many things over the winter. I guess the biggest change was working a little harder on the mental side of things. I had a good chat with Farby (Paul Farbrace) and Keysy (Rob Key) and they expressed their feelings on where I was going to bat and how they wanted me to play. It cleared my mind up as I knew the role that I needed to play in all forms of the game. Having a clear mind is a major thing for any player. I guess it helps everyone – not just cricketers. Once your mind is clear, you can just let your talent go and do what you think best. Clarity is key for anything. It is important for me to just go out and enjoy it.”

In a pre-season shake-up to the batting line-up, Stevens has dropped down a place in the Kent order, in four-day cricket, to highlight his skills in batting with the tail. The move has been a successful one and despite his personal wishes to bat higher, he is a team man and simply wants what“s best for Kent: “I haven“t really thought too much about batting at six in the championship. I just try to get the best out of any opportunity. When I bat, I want to try and give us a decent score. I have a thought in my mind on where we are and where we would like to be but, I guess, the way I play depends on the state of the game. I would prefer to bat higher up the order but my role is to bat at six and if the club is happy then I“m happy.”

Picture:Getty Images