KIMBERLEY // Joe Denly is hoping his performance for England in the second match on their tour of South Africa against the Warriors will be the start of better things as he bids to stave off pressure for the second opening position from other members of the squad. The Kent batsman hit 82 on Sunday and offered good support to captain Andrew Strauss (117 not out) as England chased the 255 victory target set by the Warriors in the 50-over game.
The visitors got there with almost 10 overs to spare and the improvement in form has been welcomed by Denly, who disappointed in four outings during the recent Champions Trophy, despite getting some good starts. "I was a little bit disappointed with the Champions Trophy, getting those starts and then getting myself out," he said. "I wouldn't say that I was got out by any of the teams, I pretty much got myself out which was disappointing.
"I learnt from that and hopefu-lly the knock is the start of putting that right and getting the sort of scores the team want from me." Denly can be forgiven for feeling the heat as competition for pla-ces in the starting XI increases. Jonathan Trott, who was not in the Champions Trophy squad, turned in a man-of-the-match 85 against the Diamond Eagles in England's opening tour game, while the inclusion of Test opener Alastair Cook in the one-day set-up has also increased pressure.
The impending return of Kevin Pietersen this week is also likely to create more competition, but Denly was just pleased to finally get back among the runs. He said: "It was nice to get out there and spend some time in the middle. It is important to get some runs under your belt before the international games start and just have as much time out there as you can. "It was quite tricky to begin with because the pitch is a bit slow and they were bowling cutters which were hard to get away. It was really about getting used to the pace of the pitch. Once I did that I felt the more time I spent out there the easier it became for me to time the ball and in the end I was feeling very comfortable."
Strauss's men face South Africa A in a 20-over encounter today before taking on Graeme Smith's Proteas in two Twenty20 internationals on Friday and Sunday. * PA Sport