By Rob Barnett
Harry Gurney spent the early part of the winter impressing England’s coaches in the nets and he has vowed to do so in the latter stage, this time as a full member of a touring party.
The uncapped 27-year-old and Tymal Mills linked up with the Ashes squad to prepare the tourists for facing the left-arm pace of Mitchell Johnson.
That Gurney has now been named in England’s squad for the two limited-overs series with West Indies reflects what an impact he made while in Australia.
Although the Nottinghamshire bowler is not in the 15-man party for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh that follows three one-day and as many T20 internationals with the Windies, he is well-placed to fill in if a seamer drops out.
Speaking from Australia where he is working on his game, Gurney said: “It’s a potentially interesting few months coming up. I’m taking it one step at a time really.
“I’ve got this trip to the West Indies, which I’m hugely excited by, and I’ll go over there and try and impress them as much as I possibly can in the nets and try and force my way into the team for a couple of games and see where it leads me from there.”
Should Gurney play in the Caribbean, he could do worse than trying to emulate former Notts left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom - England’s joint leading wicket-taker during their 2010 World T20 triumph there.
Sidebottom’s bowling is similar in style to Gurney, who did not expect to be selected for England honours when he was included in the provisional 30-man World T20 squad in mid-January.
“I initially didn’t really think I had much of a chance,” he explained. “I was trying to tell all my family: ‘Don’t get excited, etcetera’.
“As the last couple of weeks have worn on, I’ve just slowly started to develop a little bit more hope that I might actually have a chance, and that has half come true really.”
Gurney partly puts his England recognition down to his move from Leicestershire to Notts ahead of the 2012 season.
That meant experiencing the top-flight LV= County Championship game with his new club when director of cricket Mick Newell made him a regular in a format that he had previously played a bit-part in.
Gurney has started to repay Newell’s trust, following 21 first-class wickets in 2012 with 48 last year. Altogether he took 74 senior scalps for Notts in 2013, including 18 in the Outlaws’ Yorkshire Bank 40 title.
“I think there is an ever-widening gap between Division One and Division Two,” he added.
“For me to come from a Division Two county where I wasn’t really playing a great deal of red-ball cricket and be given the opportunity that I have been by Mick Newell to play regular cricket in Division One, I’ll always be grateful for that.
“It’s helped me develop as a player and hopefully put me in a position where going forward I can make big contributions for Nottinghamshire, but possibly also push for further honours.”