Davies buzzing as Ashes loom large
Steven Davies claims England’s confidence could not be higher as he counts down the days to the start of the Ashes tour.
The 24-year-old wicketkeeper will be among the 16 England players who board the plane for Perth on Friday, marking the start of their three-month Australian odyssey.
While Davies has sampled life Down Under before - as a member of the England Performance Programme four years ago - this winter will represent the high point of his career and see the fulfilment of a boyhood dream.
“I can’t wait,” he told ecb.co.uk. “I’ve been over there before, which was brilliant, but it was just five weeks in Perth, practising and watching the Tests.
“Now to be involved, I’m chuffed – really excited. It is the tour you want to be on when you are growing up; you want to play in an Ashes series.”
According to Davies, his excitement is matched by his team-mates, who - like many of the public - harbour high expectations of England winning in Australia for the first time since 1986-87.
While Australia will take to the field for the opening Test at the Gabba having lost three Tests in succession, a buoyant England are backing in the glory of six series wins in all formats this summer.
Throw in last year’s Ashes success over Australia on home soil, their World Twenty20 triumph earlier this season, followed by victories over Bangladesh and Australia, and it is little surprise when Davies says: “Confidence is sky high.
“The World Twenty20 we won, then we beat Bangladesh, Australia and Pakistan this year. The Aussies have just lost in India, so their confidence probably isn’t great at the moment.
“But we’re all so confident at the moment and we really believe that we should bring home the Ashes.”
Davies’ reputation behind the stumps has never been in doubt, but last winter he left Worcestershire, his cricketing home for more than half his life, for Surrey in a bid to enhance his England credentials.
A heavy scorer in all forms of the game this year - he averaged a shade under 50 in the LV= County Championship and more than 60 in the Clydesdale Bank 40 - his decision was justified when he won a place in England’s limited-overs squad towards the end of the summer.
Davies is overly modest when he reflects on a “decent” county season and an “okay” one-day and Twenty20 series against Pakistan, and the England management had seen enough in his fluent strokeplay and, perhaps more tellingly, noticeable composure to know he was the man to provide wicketkeeping back-up to Matt Prior in Australia.
“One of the main reasons why I moved counties was because I wanted to play for England, and I needed to score a lot more runs than I was doing at Worcester,” Davies said.
“I wanted to play on a better wicket, which is why I chose Surrey. I’ve not scored masses of runs, but I’ve been pretty consistent in both forms.”
Asked whether he would now be on the verge of an Ashes tour had he stayed at New Road, Davies said: “I don’t know - that’s a tough question.
“It was a very hard decision leaving Worcester. I’d been there all my life, from under-10s to the first team.
“I’d made some good friends and I’d been coached by ‘Bumpy’ (Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire director of cricket) since I was 11.
“It was tough but it was something I decided to do to help my career - and I think it has had an impact.”
The scale of that impact will be felt all the more keenly when Davies steps on to the plane this week.