You can count on me - Shah
Owais Shah insists he has the mental strength to perform for England should he win a recall during the Ashes.
The Middlesex batsman, who made a hugely impressive Test debut in India earlier this year, flies out to Australia today as part of the Academy squad which will serve as back-up to the senior party.
With Ed Joyce replacing Marcus Trescothick in the Test squad, Shah’s chances of being called up for Test duty in the event of injuries to the established top order appear greater than ever.
Though his performance in the cauldron of Mumbai’s imposing Wankhede Stadium in March could hardly be faulted - he made 88 and 38 - the common consensus is that touring Australia is the ultimate examination of a cricketer’s mettle.
Shah is confident he can cope with the additional mental strain.
“The game is mostly in your head. It’s 90 per cent upstairs and, if you can get that sorted out, the rest will fall into place,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“I’ve always been pretty relaxed – I’ve never struggled with nerves going out to bat - and I’m pretty happy with where my game is right now.
“It's very much a case of controlling your nerves and making the right decision in that situation.
“That’s what it's all about and I think I can cope.”
If Shah harboured a few doubts before making his Test bow on the sub-continent, there are certainly no signs of them now.
That remains his sole appearance at the highest level - he was dropped for the summer Tests in England to accommodate the returning Alastair Cook - but Shah possesses the air of a man with unstinting faith in his own ability and is relaxed beyond the point of insouciance.
He insists that should not be mistaken for a lack of drive, emphasising his ambition to regain and cement a spot in the England team.
“I had a really good debut in India. I couldn't have asked for much more – perhaps a hundred,” Shah said.
“But I’m not happy with where I am now. I still want to play for England - I’m as determined as I was before I played that game. That desire is still there, burning away.
“That the game in Mumbai went reasonably well showed what I'm capable of doing, but the fact is I’m not playing for England.
“I look at things as ‘where am I and what have I got to do to get back in there?’
“I’m part of the Academy squad now and if it happens with England, it happens - no one knows the future.
“You’ve got to make sure your game’s in good order and, if you get the opportunity and when you get the opportunity, make sure you go and perform.”