Keeping a low profile

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Steven Davies

Steven Davies is realistic enough to know opportunities to impress behind the stumps may be few and far between in Australia

The history of the Ashes is littered with tales of heroic deeds, moments of inspiration, memorable innings and career-defining bowling spells.

Reputations of countless players have been forged during England-Australia contests down the years, from Bradman and Jardine, through Botham and Border, to Warne and Flintoff.

The Ashes’ capacity to make legends of cricketers is unrivalled, and this winter will be no different.

However, while Andrew Strauss contemplates becoming the first England captain to win Down Under since 1986-87, Ian Bell lets his thoughts drift towards a match-winning century at a packed MCG, or Graeme Swann wonders what it is like to take five wickets in the final Test at Sydney, spare a thought for Steven Davies.

Often, little is heard - less so remembered - of the reserve wicketkeeper on an Ashes tour, with the focus firmly on those in the Test XI. Warren Hegg, Steve Rhodes and Bruce French have suffered such a fate in the last 25 years.

For all the euphoria of being included in the England squad for the most famous of cricketing journeys, Davies has been forced to watch from the sidelines for the opening two tour matches.

However, he was level-headed enough to know even in advance of the trip that he would play second fiddle to Matt Prior for much of it.

He knew his time in the nets was likely to outweigh competitive action by some distance. He knew he could expect a regular place on the dressing room balcony during games. And he knew he would have plenty of opportunity to determine the optimum level of cordial to water in the orange squash.

“I’m not stupid,” he told ecb.co.uk. “I’m the second keeper - I’m fully aware of that.

“I’ve toured before for a couple of winters, and sometimes I didn’t play a game - I was just mixing drinks. That’s been my job really.

“It can be quite a difficult place because you’re not playing. But I’m only one injury away from playing, and I’m just going to have to prepare like everyone else. You never know...”

Matt Prior & Steven Davies

Next in line: Davies is only an injury to Matt Prior away from realising his dream of playing in an Ashes Test Down Under

Davies’ quiet demeanour belies the determination that saw him leave Worcestershire to join Surrey last winter in a bid to further his England ambitions.

However, one senses he would be simply be happy to return from Australia as part of a triumphant squad - however limited his input may be on the field.

His attitude stems from the camaraderie and sense of togetherness in the England camp, engendered by team director Andy Flower, reinforced by their recent form and illustrated by their team bonding trip to Germany at the end of the summer.

“With the sort of the team spirit that we’ve got now, all the boys appreciate what's going on behind the scenes,” Davies revealed.

“It’s not always focused on the 11 players out there. Often at the end of a game they’ll come off and say a special thanks to the guys that have helped out.

“That makes it worthwhile - the boys do appreciate the work that you are doing for them. That’s the difference.

“The last 18 months have been brilliant like that. Obviously we’ve been winning, and results have a lot to do with it, but a lot of credit has to go to Andy Flower and the work he has put in.

“We know that if we don’t stick together we won’t be coming home with the Ashes.”

Davies played a solitary Twenty20 in the West Indies early last year, but the ease with which he settled back into the England ranks late this summer was evident in the freedom of his batting against Pakistan.

Having lined up alongside so many of the current England crop in the past - Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook and Tim Bresnan at youth level and Prior and Steven Finn for England A or the Lions - the surroundings are that little bit more familiar to Davies.

England

Davies sampled first hand England's enviable team spirit during a successful limited-overs campaign against Pakistan this summer

“Some of the boys have played with each other for years,” he said. “I remember playing with Stuart Broad for England Under-17s.

"The good thing about this team is that we all know each other well, which helps. We’re all pretty young and we’ve all got high hopes.”

If those hopes are realised this winter, the players will go down in Ashes folklore. Davies, for one, will know he played his part.

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