Denly refreshed by Lord's move
Joe Denly believes his productive start to life at Middlesex shows he was right to make the switch from Kent in the close season.
The 26-year-old opening batsman came through the ranks in his home city of Canterbury and gained international recognition in 2009 following a host of impressive performances at domestic level.
However, after falling out of favour with England following nine one-day international and five Twenty20 appearances, he then suffered a frustrating slump in form.
Although he got back on track last summer with 1,024 first-class runs, Denly still felt a change was necessary and took up the opportunity to return to Division One with Middlesex.
To date, the decision appears to have paid dividends, with 557 runs at an average of 62 representing a healthy return at the halfway point of the LV= County Championship season.
“It has proved to be a good move, a very refreshing move,” Denly told ecb.co.uk. “It was something I needed to do and I’m really enjoying my cricket.
“I’ve been made to feel very welcome at the club, I know most of the players pretty well and I’m really enjoying it, which is the main thing.
“It has been frustrating in the previous two years that I have started the season slowly and gradually picked up. I’ve been very happy this year to start the season the way I have done and I’m looking to build on that.”
Denly struck 116 not out in Middlesex’s previous championship outing against Somerset, which preceded the ongoing month-long break in red-ball cricket.
A Clydesdale Bank 40 half-century followed, but he then kicked off the Friends Life t20 campaign with four single-figure scores, before reaching 36 in a losing cause against Sussex yesterday.
Asked if the temporary cessation in championship action had come as a blow given his excellent form, Denly replied: “If I had got a few runs in the Twenty20 I would probably say no!
“I’m just trying to keep doing the things I’ve been doing and hopefully there are some runs just around the corner. I don’t feel as though I’ve lost my form all of a sudden; Twenty20 is a big momentum game.
“I try and keep it simple. Every game is a challenge and it’s a case of just spending as much time in the middle as I can.”
Middlesex as a team have struggled in the shortest format so far this year, winning just one of their opening five games.
However, they lie fourth in the LV= County Championship table, just 11 points behind leaders Nottinghamshire, after maintaining the momentum gained by last year’s Division Two title triumph.
Reflecting on Middlesex’s impressive displays in the four-day game, Denly added: “It’s going really well. I think quite a lot of people tipped us to be down fighting for relegation at the beginning of the year, but we’ve got a really good squad.
“We’re very confident and happy with the way things are going.”
Denly’s own contribution to Middlesex with the bat has been bettered only by experienced Australian Chris Rogers, who has scored 11 more runs.
The club’s bowling attack have also impressed thus far, with Tim Murtagh, Gareth Berg, Toby Roland-Jones and Steven Finn all having passed 20 first-class wickets for the summer.
“Chris Rogers has been brilliant for us,” explained Denly. “He’s a world-class player and he’s proving that this year; he’s scored some fantastic runs for us.
“Also I think our bowling attack has been really good. They have worked together as a unit and proved how good they are. They are very hard to come up against.”