Ollie Rayner feels privileged to be representing England Lions having been surprised by his call-up.
The off-spinner was pressed into action today as the Lions continued their quest for a win in the ‘Test’ series versus Sri Lanka A having emerged triumphant in the opening encounter of two.
After just one day of the second game, they were well on top two having reduced their hosts to 281 for nine in Dambulla.
Rayner, who moved to Middlesex a couple of years ago with opportunities few and far between at Sussex, is relishing his time on the sub-continent.
“Middlesex has been great from me,” he told ecb.co.uk. “I left Sussex to get some cricket and it’s taken me a couple of years to get the bowling back to where I want it.
“But it’s paid dividends now. I worked very hard last year to get it back. Just to be out here is an absolute privilege for me
“I have training in rainy Finchley so even if I was carrying drinks for the whole tour, it would have been a great opportunity for me to get ready for the season.
“To be thought of in this sort of light is a real privilege. It is just really great to be here.”
Rayner did not pick up a wicket today yet proved the most economical of England’s tweakers, conceding 58 runs off 17 overs.
“I think it went quite nicely,” he added. “It was nice to get a good day out in the field and a few overs in the legs.
“It went well personally. I would have liked to have picked up a wicket but I feel like I did my job today.”
He feels, too, that conditions could become much more fruitful for him later in the game.
“I think it’s going to be quite slow but I think it will break,” he said. “They have a left-arm seamer as well so that could create some rough for me.
“The right-handers are creating good rough for the lefties, which they have a few of, as well.”
For now, though, Rayner and England can reflect on a fine opening-day’s work.
“It was an absolutely brilliant day,” he said. “I think, obviously, we would have wanted to bat first.
“That didn’t go our way but we never let them get away from us at any stage and the wickets came our way in clusters.
“The seamers were disciplined on what looked a very flat deck. Once batsmen got in, they were hard to get out.
“There were a couple of interesting shots, admittedly. But the bowlers were brilliant today and now we will go into tomorrow in a very favourable position.”