Nothing mild about Meaker ambition
Stuart Meaker wants England Lions to emulate their senior counterparts’ Twenty20 success, starting with the games against Bangladesh A.
Five days later Meaker was a keen onlooker at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, as England beat India in a one-off match to preserve their status.
Now Meaker is with the Lions in Bangladesh, whose ‘A’ side took the one-day series 3-2. He was rested for Wednesday’s last contest, which the tourists won by six wickets, but is raring to go in the two T20s at Dhaka tomorrow and Monday.
Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, he said: “It was nice to have a little bit of a break there, just to rotate the seamers round and give Tymal Mills a chance. He did quite well.
“It set it up quite nicely for the T20 series. Obviously we want to come back and win those two games. The first team is number-one-ranked Twenty20 team in the world and we want to try and replicate that success down in the Lions. Hopefully we can start that in these next two games.”
Following the T20 double-header, the Lions go to Sri Lanka for more limited-overs matches. While they are there, England’s squad for four ODIs and three T20s with Pakistan will be named.
Having tasted a senior tour in October, Meaker - like his fellow Lions - is keen to make that party.
“Everyone’s got that in their sights,” he added. “We’ve got the series out in Sri Lanka and all the boys will be putting their names in with some performances out there.
“There’s still some adapting that needs to be done to the sub-continental conditions. I don’t think we’re far off by any means and hopefully the main squad can see that and pick a few of the guys who’ve done quite well on this tour.”
There will be a further chance to impress the selectors, albeit after the senior party has been named, when the Lions face England in a 50-over game at Abu Dhabi on February 10.
In an equivalent T20 match two years earlier at the same venue, Lions opening batsmen Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb made match-winning fifties and consequently featured throughout England’s World T20 triumph.
Meaker and co are fully aware of what a similarly outstanding performance could mean for their England prospects.
“For everyone it’s a chance to stake their claim because that’s going to be in front of all the England management,” he continued.
“If you can perform against the boys who are actually playing the one-day games for England, it speaks volumes, whereas sometimes management and selectors can’t really look too much into the stats from tours because they haven't seen the whole game.
“It obviously worked for Kieswetter and Lumb a few years ago when they played against England and hopefully some of the boys will do the same on this trip.”
Meaker has already enhanced his senior international chances in Bangladesh, taking seven wickets during the four ODIs he played in - including 4-47 in a six-wicket win at Chittagong.
“I’m pretty pleased,” he revealed. “In fairness, conditions out here aren’t really good for seamers. If you look at our stats as a seaming group we’ve done fairly well I think, made an impact in a lot of the games.
“It was nice to get four wickets in that one game. Overall I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve gone, with how the seamers have gone, in fact with the bowling in general.
“We’ve done well to keep them to relatively low scores on tough wickets. It’s a pity we didn’t win a few more games and didn’t get a few more runs on the board at times, but that’s the way it goes.”
With his two ODI caps, Meaker is the Lions’ senior seamer and has cherished using the new ball in Bangladesh.
“I’ve really enjoyed it actually,” he enthused. “I don’t often get the chance to take the new ball back home.
“For someone like me over here where skiddier bowling comes into play a lot more, it’s coming from my hand quite nicely. It’s gone through quite nicely on most occasions.
“I’ve relished using that new ball. I’m aiming to have that as a role I’d look to keep in the future - potentially get early wickets and make an impact early on.”
Meaker has bowled to a surprising variety of Bangladesh A players, with the hosts drawing on a wide pool including several senior internationals.
“They’ve played well,” he said. “They’ve been unpredictable because they’ve had such a large squad to choose from. I think they’ve had 39.
“Even their own management haven’t known what team’s rocked up on certain days so they’ve been difficult to prepare against and I think it’ll be the same going into the T20s.
“But I think knowing a few more of their players, having played against them here, it’ll be a much better battle and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”