Stevens keeps England dream alive
After 10 days of excelling for England Lions, it is a quick return to the day job and domestic duty for Darren Stevens.
However, after scoring 239 runs in the five games of the triangular series, hopes that a full international debut may still come the 34-year-old’s way have never been higher.
The Kent all-rounder was handed a surprise call-up for the recent contests with India A and West Indies A but more than justified his place with a series of quality performances.
In yesterday's final Stevens again proved his worth as the Lions secured a five-wicket win over India A in Worcester.
The veteran provided impetus to their pursuit of 279 with a characteristic blood and thunder 68 - alongside Andrew Gale’s 80 - steering the hosts to victory with eight balls to spare.
While he is more than happy to return to domestic duty for the Spitfires tonight in the Friends Provident t20, Stevens is keen to prolong his long-awaited return in the international arena.
“I just don’t want this to end. It has been a fantastic 10 days,” he told ECBtv.
“The backing staff and the lads I’ve played with have been great and we’ve won all our games, so you don’t want it to end.
“But I go back to reality with Kent and I just keep trying to win games for Kent, doing as well as I can. What will be will be.”
Stevens first made his England A debut in 1997, but is yet to make a senior team appearance, and before the tri-series that dream looked to have passed him by.
However, with three half-centuries through the series and an average of almost 80, he has surely put himself right back in contention in the 50-over game at least, alongside the likes of Jonathan Trott, Ravi Bopara and Ian Bell.
“Hopefully I’ll get a call, but we’ll just have to wait and see. I hope so,” Stevens added.
“If you had asked me at the start if we had a chance of winning the tournament I might have said yes, we have a chance, and hopefully I'll get a good go, so it’s fantastic. It’s a great win and it has been brilliant.”
Stevens played a key part in the Lions’ success and is understandably happy with his contribution to the team’s cause.
“I’ve played nicely, hit the ball cleanly and played to my strengths,” he added.
“The batting coach just said go out there and play and show us what you've got.
"I’ve had chances to bat - I’m really disappointed myself that I didn’t finish it off here, only needing 20, but played nicely and got us in a good position to win it.”
It was an altogether impressive series for England’s second string, making it an superb summer to date as the first team continue to excel in all forms of the game.
Stevens will get another chance to impress two of his Lions colleagues tonight, although it will be as the opposition as his Spitfires team travel to the Brit Insurance Oval to take on Essex Eagles - the team of Ravi Bopara and Lions skipper Alastair Cook.
It is a contest Stevens is looking forward too, although he is focusing more on Kent’s ambitions in the Friends Provident t20 than of impressing his opponents.
“I’ve got a game against Ravi and Cooky at the Brit Insurance Oval coming up,” he said.
“There’s an outside chance of us still getting through, although I think we’ve got to win the last four games, so we’ve got some big games coming up, before a few days off.”
That rest will no doubt be welcome, but if Stevens keeps on playing the way he is now, he may find spare time at even more of a premium as combining international cricket with domestic action may be the next great challenge in his career.