DENSATIONAL Joe’s star turn as he ends nine-year ex­ile

Sunday Mirror - - PUZZLES - From DEAN WIL­SON in Colombo

JOE DENLY made his long-awaited re­turn to in­ter­na­tional cricket – and looked like he had never been away.

It was nearly nine years and 384 Eng­land matches be­tween ap­pear­ances for the leg-spin­ning all-rounder, but his huge con­tri­bu­tion with bat and ball earned him the man-of-the-match award in a 30-run T20 win.

The 32-year-old scored 20 go­ing in at an un­fa­mil­iar No.7 to help Eng­land reach 187-8, then opened the bowl­ing and took a ca­reerbest 4-19, in­clud­ing the wicket of Sri Lanka dan­ger man Niroshan Dick­wella.

It was a good day for Eng­land leg-spinners, with Adil Rashid’s 3-11.

Denly’s pre­vi­ous Eng­land game was as an opener in a T20 match in Dubai. He was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously dumped on the eve of the 2010 World T20, but was al­ways de­ter­mined to make it back.

He did not think it would take this long, but the emer­gence of his bowl­ing skills with Kent and his suc­cess in T20 leagues around the world earned him a chance in Sri Lanka.

“It was cer­tainly worth the wait,” said Denly. “It’s been a long time since I played, but it was good to con­trib­ute and de­lighted to be back.

“With the new ball, I land my leg-spin­ner pretty well, and be­ing pre­dom­i­nantly a bat­ter I get a good sense of what they’re try­ing to do. With a Test se­ries com­ing up, hope­fully I can put my name in the hat.”

Denly is still a morethan-use­ful bats­man and could fea­ture in the top three in the Test se­ries that fol­lows.

But when it comes to white-ball cricket Eng­land are blessed with big hit­ters, none more so than Ja­son Roy.

He top­scored with 69, but that barely does jus­tice to an event­ful in­nings that started with an out­ra­geous straight six off La­sith Malinga’s sec­ond ball.

He also tucked into the left-arm spin of Amila Aponso to rub­bish claims he strug­gles when the ball is turn­ing away from him.

He could have saved Alex Hales had he ad­vised him to re­view his lbw de­ci­sion rather than send him on his way, fol­lowed that with a run-out mix up with skip­per Eoin Mor­gan and wasted the soli­tary re­view on him­self when he had clearly edged be­hind.

Oh, and he was also dropped four times dur­ing his in­nings. I’m AUSSIE David Warner walked off the field in protest over a “sledg­ing in­ci­dent” dur­ing a match. With his rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most ag­gres­sive sledgers in cricket, the biter was bit.

HAPPY TO BE BACK: Denly is all smiles after his ef­forts with the ball

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