Sam Northeast is using former Kent team-mate and close friend Joe Denly as an inspiration to break into England’s Test side but the Hampshire batsman knows the only way to make a compelling case is by weight of runs.
Having recently turned 30, Northeast would be forgiven for thinking his England ship had sailed but Denly did not make his Test bow until last year, just a few weeks shy of his 32nd birthday.
Also motivating Northeast is a stellar Specsavers County Championship campaign in 2019, when only Dom Sibley and Gary Ballance amassed more than his 969 runs, which came at an impressive average of 51.
“I don’t see that my time for England has been and gone,” Northeast said. “A good friend of mine, Joe Denly, proves it’s still very possible, I’m sure there are loads of other examples.
“I feel as good as I’ve ever done, and that’s just due to getting older, experienced, knowing your game a bit better, I think that just helps with time.
“The goal was always to play for England all the way through but selection is something you can’t control so it’s all about scoring runs for Hampshire and hopefully winning games. If anything comes from that then brilliant.”
Even though he is still awaiting a senior call-up, Northeast, capped in a number of age-group levels, remains on England’s radar and has been included in the Lions’ four-day squad for the tour of Australia, starting next month.
England have made no attempt to downplay this trip as a reconnaissance mission for the next Ashes series Down Under, and Northeast believes a standout showing may push him into the frame for the next battle against Australia.
Speaking in Loughborough at a media day, he added: “Anytime you go on a Lions trip is a time to showcase your skill and your ability.
“It would be wrong for me to not have dreams of playing for England and being on the next Ashes tour.
“So absolutely looking to hopefully score runs, that’s the only way to get into an England side: score a lot of runs.”