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Denly reflects on the Champions Trophy

Tuesday 6th October 2009

Kent and England opener Joe Denly (JD) is back in the UK and has given his first interview to the Kent website (KW). Read Joe“s thoughts on his contribution to the England team at the Champions Trophy, his thoughts on Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss as well as his aims for the future.

KW: Joe, welcome home. How did you enjoy your first tour as an England cricketer?

JD: In cricketing terms, it was a fantastic experience. I really enjoyed it. It was great to play against Australia in the one-day series but playing in the Champions Trophy was even better. The competition was amazing and I enjoyed testing myself against the best cricketers in the world. Away from the cricket, we didn“t do too much as we were advised not to leave the hotel on our own. So we watched lots of DVDs as a group and just spent time mingling. There was lots of banter flying around and we still got to enjoy ourselves.

Was it tough, not being able to leave the hotel when you wanted to?

No, not really. We did go out in groups from time to time and spent lots of time at the various grounds; practising and playing. As a relatively new player to the squad, I enjoyed spending time in the rooms. It was an invaluable experience and allowed me to listen and learn from the more senior players.

You are averaging 29.77 in your ODI career. How do you feel you performed in South Africa?

I was pretty happy overall. I enjoyed the experience and was feeling quite comfortable at the end of the tour. It was nice to score a few runs and it certainly gave me some confidence. It was just a shame that the big scores weren“t there. Most of the time I got myself out rather than someone getting me out. So I know I have things to work on. If I keep improving and doing well in the nets then those big scores won“t be too far away. Every time I went out to bat, I was playing for the team game plan. I was given orders to be nice and positive but, just like with Kent, the team must come first.

It was your first trip to South Africa and your first England tour. How did it compare to previous Kent trips?

It didn“t feel any different. I could“ve been away with Kent. It was a big event but I certainly didn“t feel out of my comfort zone. I was proud and happy to be there and to gain that experience. It gave me a great buzz. Playing against some of the best teams and players in the world was a special experience. We were in the same hotel as the likes of Australia and India. Walking past Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting at the hotel was pretty good! Growing up, I spent lots of time watching them and they are two of my favourite players. It is something that I will always remember.

How was the England dressing room?

It was good. We are quite fortunate to have some good characters in the side. Lots of the boys like a bit of banter but Graeme Swann is the main man. He loves a joke and is always looking to keep spirits high! The dressing room is pretty relaxed but it becomes more intense on match days. Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss are the two leaders. They are two very professional blokes who want the best for England. They work very hard behind the scenes and are desperate for success.

How pleasing was it to reach the last four of the Champions Trophy?

It was very good and everyone was delighted with our comeback. We endured a disappointing series against Australia and got outplayed for six of the seven matches. We then did well in the last game at Durham and it was important to end on a high. It meant we went into the Trophy with a bit of momentum and kept it going. We got the great win over Sri Lanka first up and our confidence just grew and grew. That result was important for us and gave us plenty of belief.

The Sri Lanka win was impressive but the win over South Africa was arguably better. What was it like, beating the host nation?

It was a great win for us and the atmosphere was electric. The crowds were pretty disappointing throughout but lots of people turned up for the South Africa game. There was a bit of banter flying around between the two sides because it was nice and close right the way through. It was a game I really enjoyed. We went into the competition with no real pressure. We were the underdogs so all the pressure was on South Africa in that match. It allowed us to approach it with lots of freedom and we took it to them. If you play with freedom then you have a good opportunity of beating anyone.

ECB National Selector, Geoff Miller, will announce England“s Test and one-day squads for the winter tour of South Africa tomorrow. How much would it mean to make either/both of those squads?

It would be great and obviously that is the main aim for me. I didn“t get real big scores in the Champions Trophy but I think I showed that I have the needed qualities. I got some good starts but didn“t really go on. I enjoyed it in South Africa and would love to go back again this winter. There are some guys ahead of me in their games and they have obviously scored more runs but perhaps age isn“t on their side. I would like to think that England are looking to the future and if I get a go then I am confident that I can keep performing.

Finally, how is the knee progressing?

It feels okay. I haven“t really had the opportunity to rest it but it is coming along nicely. I“m pleased to have a bit of time off now. It will be nice to recharge the batteries and chill at home. I enjoy watching a bit of TV and need to catch up on The X Factor! I“ll need to keep myself fit with a bit of gym work and will then start to build things up properly in the next couple of weeks.

Picture:Getty Images