Tom Westley revealed that he had benefited from some inside knowledge from his Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate after seizing his first chance of the winter with the England Lions in Abu Dhabi today.
Westley, the only member of the Lions squad not to play in the three-match one-day series against the United Arab Emirates in Dubai, top-scored with a battling 84 in the first innings of their historic four-day match against Afghanistan at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.
He received excellent support from Surrey wicketkeeper Ben Foakes in a fifth-wicket stand of 125 but four of the Lions top seven were dismissed by Rashid Khan, an impressive legspinner who bowled with unusual pace.
But that was no surprise to Westley. “Their legspinner has been playing with Ryan in the Bangladesh Premier League, so I knew he was going to be a good bowler,” said the 27-year-old.
“I think it’s fantastic to see the development of Afghanistan cricket. They’ve obviously got some very talented cricketers, as shown by the fact they’re playing in tournaments around the world like the BPL. I played against Afghanistan for Essex second team, it would have been nearly 10 years ago, and although they beat us they were very raw. It’s nice to see how they’ve developed from there, to be playing a first-class fixture against the Lions at this stadium.
“It was definitely a challenge facing them. They bowled to their fields, and the wicket assisted them just enough, and it was quite hard to score. But I thought Foakesy came in and played beautifully, and I think the openers as well, set us off really nicely. It just would have been nice for one of us top three to kick on and get a really big score, then maybe we could have ended the day 320 for five rather than 280 for nine.
“Having been here for three weeks and not played a game, I knew that I only had one maybe two innings on the whole tour. So it was nice to get some runs under my belt today although there is a tinge of disapoointment that me and Foakesy couldn’t carry on for 10 more overs. But from a personal point of view it’s nice to get a few runs.
“It’s not like playing at Chelmsford. I experienced it a little bit playing in Sri Lanka a couple of years ago. It does create a bit more of an intense atmosphere, but fair play to them.”