Craig ready for Ashes challenge

Craig Overton is getting ready to take part in his third Ashes series.

The 27-year-old, who took 42 LV= Insurance County Championship wickets at an average of 15.47 in 2021, has been included in the England squad for this winter’s tour of Australia. It’s a trip that he’s very much looking forward to.

“Growing up it was always my dream to play for England and to tour Australia,” he said earlier this week. “I’ve been lucky enough to play in two Ashes series, but to be part of a winning series over there would be great, because it doesn’t happen too often.”

There was a degree of uncertainty regarding whether this Ashes tour would actually take place, but Craig was in no doubt about his availability for the series.

“I was always going to go if I was selected,” he said. “I can understand how other players feel, especially those with families, but I always had it in my head that I would be going if I was selected. You don’t get the chance to play in an Ashes series in Australia that often.

“It’s a hard side to get into when you’re a bowler because you’re competing with two of England’s greatest ever, so I was happy to have had a chance this summer. I was pretty happy with how I performed but I feel like I’ve still got a bit more to prove. The more you play, the more comfortable you become in that environment, and that can only be good for me.”

Craig believes that his previous Ashes experience will stand him in good stead.

“I’m more experienced now and I’ve been around the squad a lot more. I’ve played against the opposition more and I know what the crowd will be like. I know what to expect. I was stepping into the unknown a little bit the first time. I’m obviously still learning, but the experience of the last trip will definitely help me.”

There’s a strong Somerset connection to the squad with Craig being joined by teammate Jack Leach plus former Somerset players Jos Buttler and Dom Bess.

“The squad is a close group anyway,” said Craig. “Having Leachy, Jos and Bessie around, who I’ve played an awful lot of cricket with, will definitely make it feel even closer.”

Craig’s first Test scalp was that of Steve Smith, and the Somerset paceman is keen to replicate that success this winter.

“People keep asking me if I’ll be wanting to get him out again. He’s a world class player so we’ll have to come up with some plans to make sure that we get him out as soon as possible.”

Although 2021 ultimately ended in disappointment for the County, Craig is keen to take the positives from the season.

“As a team we were disappointed by how the season finished but overall, we played some good cricket this year, particularly in the first half of the season. It didn’t quite click for us at the back end of the campaign but that can happen sometimes in four-day cricket. We know we’ve got things to work on as a side, but overall, I think we’re in a good place and I know we’ll come back stronger next year. Personally, I think the start of the season went well for me. The more experience I get, the better understanding I have of what I need to do to be able to lead the attack. I’m getting more comfortable in that role. I’m going out there, playing my cricket and enjoying that role.”

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23/08/2022 11:00 - Edgbaston