England flame burns bright for Batty
Worcestershire off-spinner Gareth Batty cannot wait to begin England Lions’ tour of New Zealand and believes he can use the matches against New Zealand A to force his way back into the senior set-up.
The 31-year-old set off for his first England tour since early 2006 on Saturday. Unlike many of the others in the squad, he was not part of the England Performance Programme in India before Christmas.
Batty’s last Test was against Bangladesh ahead of the 2005 Ashes and previous one-day international versus India three years ago.
However, he has not given up on further senior international honours and is ready to press for a place in England’s evolution following his Christmas call-up.
He told ecb.co.uk: “I suppose, like any cricketer, you get to the end of September and October’s really nice and then you’re chomping at the bit. It was a really nice call over Christmas to get. I’m absolutely ready and raring to go.”
He added: “It’s nice to get back in what was a bit of a routine for four or five years. Hopefully I can use the experience I have from those trips away.
“First and foremost we’re there to win games of cricket but it’s a lovely country and I hope to enjoy the country as well.”
Batty has witnessed fellow bowling all-rounder Graeme Swann’s swift elevation into all three senior England sides of late.
With England set to appoint a permanent successor to former coach Peter Moores, he is keen to make a positive impression on performance director David Parsons in New Zealand.
“The one thing about the set-up at the minute, it’s all up in the air. Nobody in the full squad barring a few individuals has nailed down a place to be untouchable,” he continued.
“Everybody involved in England stuff at the minute has got a chance if they perform. And I think there also people who aren’t involved in that who could get a call at any point.
“It’s exciting time for the players because with performances you could find yourself getting up there with the full team.”
The majority of the Lions party have been working hard at the National Performance Centre to get themselves ready for competitive action.
For most, it will be their first since the end of the 2008 domestic season since when Batty has tweaked his bowling action.
“We’ve been up at Loughborough with Dave Parsons and the staff up there three days a week, which has been good,” he said.
“Other times I have been doing the extra bits of training that I suppose the modern day cricketer is required to do.
“I changed bowling action slightly so there’s some more strength and core exercises over and above what I have done previously.”
Batty, with seven Test and ODI caps to his name plus over a decade of first-class, is one of the senior members of the tour party.
However, he places himself firmly in captain Rob Key’s ranks ahead of the two Tests, Two ODIs and Twenty20 against New Zealand A.
“I don’t think within sporting teams there’s much on seniority. I think everybody mucks in together and does their job and it comes together that way.
“Hopefully just a few experiences that some of the older guys, or the guys who have played a little bit more, have had can shed light on things that come up from time to time.”