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Rediff News  All News  » Cricket » England prospect Denly renews rivalry with Lee

England prospect Denly renews rivalry with Lee

August 30, 2009 16:13 IST

England's latest batting prospect Joe Denly is set to renew an old rivalry on Sunday against Australia fast bowler Brett Lee who gave him an early insight into batting in international cricket.

England and Australia meet in the first of two Twenty20 Internationals at Old Trafford with the second on Tuesday, before a seven-match one-day series follows a dramatic summer in which England regained the Ashes.

Denly top-scored with 67 on his England debut on Thursday in a win over Ireland.

He is now expected to open against Australia and Lee, who he first took on as an 18-year-old five years ago when playing club cricket in Australia.

He had gone there to work on his game but did not expect such a tough baptism.

"In my first game (for Balmain Tigers) I opened the batting against Brett Lee, though I don't know if he would remember," Denly told Reuters.

"I got off the plane on the Friday and played against him (and his club Mosman) on the Saturday.

"I managed to get him away for a couple of boundaries but he got me out lbw in the end. He hit me on the gloves as well so that was a good challenge. I'm sure he wasn't bowling at full pace, he was coming back from injury and needed a game because he hadn't played for a while.

"He eased into it and got into a rhythm and hit the bat pretty hard and was still the quickest I had ever faced. It was a big eye-opener and made me realise if I want to play international cricket these are the types of bowlers I need to get used to."


Denly discovered cricket at seven while watching his father play for club team Whitstable in the Kent League. By age 12 he was part of the Kent county set-up and eventually worked his way through the system before he made his first-class debut in 2004.

The winters he spent in Sydney with Balmain allowed him to hone his technique after struggling with the short ball.

His Australian experience and work with Sydney Cricket Ground performance manager Alan Campbell moulded him into a predominantly back-foot batsman.

"I used to get hit quite often from the short ball and I knew if I wanted to step up I had to work on that," Denly said.

"Going to Sydney and batting on those quick decks was a big part in my career taking off."

Denly scored 66 against Australia at Worcester for the England Lions in July, batting confidently until he was bowled -- by Lee.

In that innings Lee finished with six wickets and bowled spiteful reverse swing. Denly said the game was another important lesson learned.

"I have progressed quite a bit since I first faced Lee in Australia," Denly said.

"The Worcester game was my first big taste of international cricket and against one of the best teams in the world. It gives me a bit of confidence and hopefully I can reflect on that in these games."

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