While he is not a Middlesex player, Joe Denly is one of my favourite domestic players. Having watched him progress from young upstart to international, Denly's career path has been of great interest to me. While I at first ignored his poor international form, it became apparent that he wasn't quite ready for international cricket. With great sadness, I called for his head; and his removal from England's Twenty20 squad. And today I got my wish. (I know, I've only just learned how to do links on here!)
Only I didn't get my wish. Yes, the squad is probably better off with Michael Lumb in it than with Joe Denly, but that still doesn't make me feel any better. I want to see Joe Denly play for England like I see him play for Kent, with a swash-buckling confidence that he deserves to make runs. I want him to have the same understanding in his opening partnerships for England like he has with Rob Key, and the same assurance at the crease. But none of this will be seen this April in the West Indies, with neither Denly nor Key being picked for the squad.
This is probably for the best; Kieswetter will open with one of Bopara and Lumb (who are both playing with mixed success in the IPL), which would be a better opening partnership than Denly who is still struggling with his technique and confidence at international level. England will have a greater chance of success without Joe Denly.
While I am upset for now, it is Denly who should be the most worried. If he does not have a very good season for Kent, there is no guarantee that he will be the 'next-in-line' if there are injuries or loss of form. And if he is given another international chance, he will need to seize it in a much better way than he has already. I do not believe Denly's international career is over, but he will need to prove to the selectors that he has the attributes to become an accomplished one day, and later test player for England. And I for one hope that he can.