Oliver Hannon-Dalby hopes that his unexpected taste of touring with the England Lions will end in a series victory over Pakistan A in Dubai tomorrow.
The Yorkshire-born Warwickshire seamer found himself in the right place at the right time, both personally and for the Lions, having signed up for a training programme at the ICC Global Cricket Academy this winter.
The Lions quickly made plans to use him as an extra bowler of proven first-class quality in their net sessions when they arrived in Dubai to prepare for the 50-over series against Pakistan A early in January, but had to extend that arrangement when injuries to Jamie Overton and Liam Plunkett whittled their six-strong seam attack down to four.
So Hannon-Dalby has become a regular presence at the Academy throughout the five-match series, combining 12th-man duties with bowling in the middle as well as the nets.
He believes that can only benefit Warwickshire, who will join him in Dubai at the start of March for a pre-season training camp also based at the ICC.
“I got offered the opportunity to come out here on a training camp the ICC Academy are running for professional cricketers in the run-up to pre-season,” explained the 26-year-old, who has been joined by Durham’s Ryan Pringle and Luke Wells of Sussex, among others.
“I got here on January 3rd. It’s great especially as a bowler to be playing outside at this time of year. I was due to be playing a bit of local cricket, training in the nets, and bowling at international teams that come through here all the time, to build some overs up and get some practice before the season.
“When the Lions got here I spoke to Andy Flower and said I’d love to bowl in the nets. It’s doing me a favour and you a favour – I need to bowl, you need bowlers.
“Luckily I bowled well, and it turned out there were a couple of injuries so lo and behold there was an opportunity to spend a bit more time with the squad.
“Whether you’re officially a member of the squad or not, being involved is a fantastic place to be. It’s nice to be training in this environment – just a good environment to be around. I can hopefully show people like Andy and Gus Fraser what I can do.”
Fraser has been in Dubai observing the whole series in his role as one of England’s selectors, with extra interest in the performances of his Middlesex players Dawid Malan and Toby Roland-Jones – who celebrated his 28th birthday today.
The majority of the Lions head home on Sunday – with the notable exceptions of Flower, Malan, Sam Billings and James Vince, who will all be staying in Dubai for the Pakistan Super League T20 competition which starts next week.
Hannon-Dalby also has another month of his winter programme at the ICC to run before he will be joined by Dougie Brown and the rest of the Warwickshire squad.
“The last few years we’ve been to Barbados but this year we’re coming right here to the ICC Academy – I’ll be sick of the sight of the place!” he joked.
“But I think it will be a fantastic place for us to do pre-season. The facilities here – just from the treadmill of teams coming through you can tell they’re world class.
“You’ve got two full-sized cricket ovals that you can use, and as well as that there’s 20-odd nets there to be training on, a world-class gym and indoor facilities.
“So whether you’re playing cricket or not, everything is catered for. There’s no excuse to not be doing hard work out here.”
With the series against Pakistan A locked at 2-2, the Lions will call Surrey’s Ben Foakes and Lancashire’s Stephen Parry into their 50-over team for the first time as they aim for a repeat of the dramatic 3-2 victory in the T20 series before Christmas.
Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond has also been recalled to make his second appearance of the series.