• England Lions 3m

    Clarke keen to make mark for England Lions against South Africa

    England Lions face South Africa on Thursday - the final game before the tourists play England at Lord's.

    Joe Clarke has the chance to press his England claims on home soil this week after his inclusion in the Lions squad to face the senior South Africa tourists in a three-day match at New Road.

    Clarke sealed a spot in the Worcestershire side mid-way through the 2015 season after a double hundred for the county's second XI against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham College and since then his potential has flourished.

    By the end of that breakthrough campaign he was part of the England Lions squad and last season was Worcestershire's top-scorer with 1,200 County Championship runs and five centuries.

    But he admits the first two months of this summer have been a frustrating experience in failing to convert several promising starts into big scores - until last week.

    That all changed as Clarke hit two centuries against Kent and he also made an important 45 in difficult conditions at Durham with a pink Dukes ball.

    It was enough to seal a Lions recall for the three-day game with South Africa on his home New Road ground starting on Thursday. Highlights of the game will be on

    Clarke said: "What has this season been like? It's just been frustrating. I'd already stepped up the amount of work in the nets and practice.

    "You just start to think in your head really, and in your head it's more of a mental thing, trying to just say to yourself that you are still basically good enough to get those scores.

    "They do seem so far away when you haven't got one for a while. You have to just trust in your game, trust in your skills.

    "I didn't really know when it (a big score) was going to happen. I had felt in good nick all year but would get to 20 and 30 and get out.

    "I'm glad it happened last week against Kent and I can go on from there and just go for as many (hundreds) as I can."

    "I always think about the Lions but I don't want to think too far ahead."

    Joe Clarke

    Clarke's return to form was timely after not being selected for the early Lions games this summer.

    He said: "I guess I haven't been scoring the runs that they would like me to so, of course, it always comes as a disappointment because you always liked to be picked. 

    "I guess it makes you hungrier to get picked next time. I always think about the Lions but I don't want to think too far ahead. 

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    "That's something I've been guilty of in the past and I've just concentrated on trying to score runs for Worcester and that will take care of itself."

    Clarke would dearly like to emulate another Worcestershire batsman who scored a hundred for the Lions against the tourists at New Road eight years ago.

    Stephen Moore hit 120 in a drawn game against Australia in 2009 in which his county team-mates Steven Davies and Vikram Solanki also featured.

    Tickets are still available for the Lions match priced £16 for adults and £5 for juniors aged 17 and under.


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