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