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Davies relishing Lancashire challenge
IT is the dream of every young boy to reach the peak in whatever sport they are lucky enough to be good enough at to stand out from the crowd.
Toddlers taking their first teetering steps and getting hold of a football for the first time soon start lying awake at night having happy thoughts how they could one day score the winning goal for their favourite team.
It’s pretty much the same for young cricketers – and especially for those from the heart of the Red Rose county there can be no bigger incentive than to walk out wearing the whites of Lancashire at that most special of cricket venues Old Trafford.
That is the dream that has now become reality for Alex Davies – and boy is he ready to live it.
The 19-year-old has made an almost seamless progression from the Northern League into County Cricket and after a taster two years ago and a run at the end of last season as Lancashire secured promotion back to Division One, he is aiming for more.
“This is the only thing I have ever wanted to do, ever since I watched my dad playing for Darwen when I was just a few days old,” said Davies.
“I always wanted to be a cricketer. I made my debut for Darwen U11s when I was five and moved through the ranks to the first team. And I always wanted to get into County Cricket with Lancashire.
“I had a little taste last season and this year I want to keep on progressing.”
Davies will keep wicket when the season starts tomorrow at Nottinghamshire as England One Day wicketkeeper Jos Buttler is rested after his long winter.
And while he knows Buttler will be first choice, Davies will step in when the former Somerset man is away wearing the Three Lions, something he is expected to do with great regularity as English cricket looks to a new future after a winter of discontent in both the Ashes and the ICC World Twenty20.
“It’s up to me to take my opportunities when they come,” said Davies. “I am still learning the game but it is good to learn off someone with the quality of Jos.
“I was enjoying working with Gareth Cross and it was a shame when he left – but Jos is an England player and that is ultimately where I want to end up playing.”
Davies found himself in the Test arena last summer when he was named as one of the 13th men as England tackled Australia in front of a sun drenched crowd at Old Trafford.
His duties were carrying out the drinks and attending to any whims of the England players but he said: “That was an amazing experience, a great time.”
Old Trafford is a world away from Darwen’s Birch Hall where it all started for Davies.
But he has made that journey with ease and on the back of a stunning season in the Liverpool Competition for Lytham last year, people in the know believe this term could be a landmark year.
A gloveman of increasing repute, Davies is also a rare talent with the bat and two years ago was the only non-county player in the England squad for the U19s World Cup in Australia.
And Davies is fitting into life at the headquarters of northern cricket just fine and he really belongs in the newly promoted Lancashire squad, even if his appearances before the camera at the club’s photocall were greeted with what can be best described as ‘banter’ from his team-mates.
“It takes some getting used to but that goes with the territory,” he smiled as he sat in the members lounge at Old Trafford tucking into a healthy plate of lunch, in itself a world away from the traditional league cricket tea of a butty, pie, cake and a bag of crisps.
“Sometimes you look around Old Trafford and you look at the other people in the squad and you wonder ‘am I really here?’ – it can be a little surreal,” he admitted.
“But it is really good, it’s what you set your heart on and you have to enjoy every moment even the things that you are not too used to.”
Despite his growing reputation and increased profile, Davies is determined to keep it real and fully intends to turn out for Lytham again this season when his duties allow.
“It’s important for me to keep connected with club cricket, that’s where all players start,” he said.
“I will play for Lytham when I can and it’s good to turn up on a Saturday and play for them. I always want to play a game of cricket and if I can help them out, even better.”
He was certainly an asset to the Church Road club last summer after being encouraged to move from the Northern League into Lancashire’s preferred choice of the Liverpool Competition.
Rated as the top league in the North West, Davies made light of the supposed leap in standard with a run-laden summer of well in excess of 1,000 runs in limited games, with even the harshest of critics impressed.
“I just hope to keep on improving year on year,” added Davies. “That is always the aim.”
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