Stevens gives his thoughts on his England Lions experience

Monday 12th July 2010

After a mightily successful stint with the England Lions, all-rounder Darren Stevens (pictured)has returned to club duty and instantly made his mark as Kent narrowly lost to Essex last Friday night in the Friends Provident t20. The 34 year-old struck a 26-ball fifty, in front of a bumper crowd, at the Brit Insurance Oval. The in-form stroke maker talks to the club“s website about his time away with the national second-string and reveals his plans for the future.

Darren, it was long overdue when you earned your call-up to the Lions squad, alongside team-mate James Tredwell, to take part the Triangular One-Day series against India A and West Indies A. What was the experience like?

Brilliant, everything about it was enjoyable and very professional. No time was wasted and everything was catered for. They looked after all of our food and drink requirements, energy drinks were provided when needed – I guess everything you would expect from a national team setup. There was a fitness guy on hand all of the time; he told you what to eat and when and what not to eat. We also worked hard on the cricket with a head coach, batting coach, bowling coach and team manager all on hand to look after your every requirement. It was very professional and I cannot speak highly enough about how things went.

The Lions went on to claim glory in the tournament as you defeated India A in the final at Worcester by five-wickets. You led the way with a typically pugnacious 68 from 53 balls. The runs meant that you averaged 79.66, with a strike-rate of over 100. Did you expect to make such an impact and to top the averages?

I guess I didn’t really think too much about it, leading up to it. I was pleased to be selected and went along, initially, hoping to get a game. I knew that if I got an opportunity and continued to play the way I had been for Kent then I would do okay. After the first game, batting at seven and getting in for the last two overs, I thought it would be hard just to get a bat! Fortunately, at Leicester – my former club, I got a go and it was good to spend some time out in the middle in England colours. There wasn“t any real pressure on me so I had the opportunity to just bat and get runs. I didn“t realise until someone mentioned it to me that I got over 250 runs at 80 throughout the competition. I guess I wasn’t really thinking about doing well personally – I just wanted to win as many games as possible and help England Lions to be successful.

With the Lions squad used as a stepping stone to the first-team, you were understandably keen to impress the various different coaches. So what feedback did you receive?

Everyone was really pleased with me. I didn“t get a great opportunity to work with Shiney (Kevin Shine), the bowling coach, but the batting coach was brilliant. Australian Dene Hills, who played for Tasmania, was great. He just said to me “right Stevo, you are here for a reason. You are scoring lots of runs and we obviously want that to continue. We are not going to work on your technique. I just want you to let me know what you want me to look out for.” The head coach, David Parsons, was also top drawer. He explained what he wanted in key detail and kept everything nice and simple. We had a range of good meetings and everyone was involved. It was a really controlled environment and everything ran along nice and smoothly.

After the tournament, James (Tredwell) was called into the senior side to take on Bangladesh in a three-match one-day series. His progression shows that it is possible. If you keep playing well, what are your chances of breaking into the full England side?

The big question! I would love to say every chance but the boys in the main side are playing some great cricket and have just beaten Bangladesh in the ODI series. I think the England Lions side is very strong; look at the team down the card and there is plenty of quality. Ian Bell recently suffered an injury and Ravi Bopara got a call-up. Hopefully I am also on the radar. If I keep performing well for Kent then I hope I will get my opportunity. I“ve had a good t20 campaign and things are going well in the championship too so long may it continue.