Dan Lawrence: England new boy confident he can succeed at Test level and will play his own way

A confident Dan Lawrence has vowed to do things “his way” as he looks to establish himself in England’s Test team.

The uncapped Essex batsman is poised to bat at No 5 in the first Test against Sri Lanka from Thursday – live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4am – with Ben Stokes rested and Ollie Pope still recovering from a shoulder issue.

Lawrence, renowned for his strong leg-side game, has scored 10 centuries and 18 fifties in 74 first-class games and averaged almost 100 across the formats during England Lions’ trip to Australia last winter, a tour he says “really set him up” for the challenges ahead.

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The 23-year-old sees no reason to make any sweeping changes and has backed himself to flourish at the top level of the sport.

“I am a big one for trying to do things in my sort of way – it is about trying to stick to my guns and what has made me successful,” Lawrence told reporters on Monday.

“I don’t want to come into an England environment and completely change everything because that wouldn’t be being true to myself. Confidence in my own game is quite a big strength of mine.

“I have the confidence I can be really successful at this level, it’s just about doing it now, expressing myself and not sitting in a hole or letting the situation get too much for me.

“I have had a big technical change over the last 12 months. When I was playing for Essex before I was triggering too much and getting out in ways I shouldn’t have, so I have really simplified things down and feel really confident in my new technique.

“Representing England is something I have always strived to do so I am loving every single minute of being here. It’s really exciting to be a part of it. God knows how I will feel if I play on Thursday but right now I am calm.”

It is fantastic having Kallis here, arguably the greatest player to have ever played. We had a good chat about batting and I sort of had to pinch myself! I have tried to take bits here and there but still stick to my guns, knowing how I am going to be successful.

Lawrence on England batting consultant Jacques Kallis

Lawrence has played at county level with Sir Alastair Cook, with the duo helping Essex to three red-ball titles in the last four years, and the England new boy says the country’s all-time leading Test match run scorer has been an inspiration for him.

Lawrence will be looking to take a leaf out of Cook’s book in the games against Sri Lanka by aiming to bat for long spells in sapping heat against a heavy dose of spin.

The batsman said of Cook: “It is fantastic playing alongside him. Just his presence in the changing room is so good and you learn so much.

“He still works harder than anyone else in our team and he has finished his international career so you can only learn from what he does.

“We have had brief conversations around international cricket but he is a big one for if you put in the work you should be alright, even though there are different pressures.

“The big thing is going to be the heat and concentrating for long periods of time. That was arguably Cookie’s greatest strength – batting long periods. That is one thing I will be trying to do.

“The good thing with the England set-up, with the Under-19s and the Lions, is that you get experiences in Asia.

“In the last year, we had a spin camp in India where I learnt a lot and wrote a lot of stuff down. I have had to go back to that to refresh the brain on how I went about things.”

As well being an avid notetaker, Lawrence is also an ardent watcher and says he learnt plenty from being involved in England’s bubble last summer, despite not actually going on to make his international debut at that point.

“Not playing allowed me to hit a lot of balls in the nets and do a lot of watching,” added the right-hander.

“Not just the batters but seeing how bowlers go about things. It allowed me to have good conversations with some of the older guys.

“You learn what you need to get better at, what your strengths are and how you can succeed at this level. It was frustrating not to play but it was still a brilliant experience overall.”

Lawrence also had to deal with the death of his mother due to illness last summer and says getting back playing cricket with Essex was a huge help.

“Mum was ill for a couple of years so as sad as it was I had mentally prepared myself for the worst happening,” he said.

“It was tough for a couple of months but it was lovely to go back and play some cricket for Essex around my really good mates. I needed them at that time and they were all fantastic.”

Lawrence’s next knock looks almost certain to come in the first Test against Sri Lanka and the youngster could barely contain his glee at a potential debut, even though, due to coronavirus regulations, it will come behind closed doors.

“I am very excited. I haven’t officially been given the nod yet so I am just trying to train as hard as I can and put my name in the hat.

“As different as it is, and as much as I would love to have my family and partner here, I think playing for England sort of trumps all that. I’m where I really want to be.

“I will just try to be as free as possible, really enjoy it as much as I can and try not to put myself under too much pressure.”

Watch the first Test between Sri Lanka and England, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4am on Thursday.

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