Jamie Overton interview: England Test call-up from Brendon McCullum will live with me forever

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Jamie Overton interview: England Test call-up from Brendon McCullum will live with me forever
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It has been a busy week for Jamie Overton. From Sunday to Wednesday, he was involved in an excellent Championship match at Taunton, in which he concussed two opponents — one of them his twin brother — bowling on day one, then was at the crease as his Surrey team secured victory late on day four.

Yesterday, he left his phone in his car while shopping and returned to a message from Brendon McCullum, asking him to call back. When he did, he was informed he had received his first Test call-up, to face New Zealand at Headingley next Thursday.

Tonight, he lines up for Surrey in front of a packed-house at the Kia Oval in the Vitality Blast derby against Middlesex and will play against Hampshire on Sunday before joining his new England team-mates in Leeds on Monday. A round of golf, then two days of training precede what feels a likely debut.

“It’s been some week, topped off by a very nice phone call,” he says. That call, he adds, is a moment that “will live with me forever”. Another followed, a few minutes later, from Ben Stokes, who said he “wants me to do exactly what I do for Surrey”.

What is that, then? “I’ll try to bowl fast and put batters under pressure,” he says. “Pace can change the game. I won’t be doing anything differently, I won’t be trying to bowl line and length like everyone else. I will do what I do — be accurate, hit my areas, but if I need to go to the short stuff, I can do that as well.”

His brother Craig, who is also in the England squad, and his former Somerset team-mate Josh Davey learned this the hard way on Sunday.

“The ball went soft and they were building a decent little partnership,” says Jamie. “It was just trying to make them a bit uncomfortable. I don’t have the intention of hitting anyone, even though some people think I do! Unfortunately, they couldn’t quite get out the way.”

In a worrying development reminiscent of Steve Smith at Lord’s in 2019, Craig briefly retired hurt, before being allowed to return to bat, so Jamie greeted him with another bouncer, that he swerved.

“I reckon that ball was quicker than the one that hit him,” he says. “He played it nicely and just got under it. You have to forget the family connection. It’s just another game.”

Craig completed his innings but failed a concussion Test the following morning. The next time the twins see each other, they will be in Leeds.

Ben Stokes wants me to do for England exactly what I do for Surrey

“We’ve always wanted to play Test cricket together,” he says. “It’ll be nice to join back up, we always seem to get a bit more out of ourselves when we’re together.”

Five wickets at Taunton continued a terrific season for Overton, at least in part because of a run-up shortened in collaboration with Azhar Mahmood, Surrey’s bowling coach, that is now feeling “really natural”. In five Championship appearances, he has 21 wickets at 21.6, not to mention 212 runs at 53, with a top-score of 93, which might help shorten a long England tail. In the Blast, he is smashing runs at a strike-rate of 210.

Through Surrey’s T20 campaign, he has continued to bowl with a red-ball in warm-ups and is delighted that he has continued to find swing and that his pace — clocked at 90mph this season — remains up.

“The most important thing is that I am still bowling that pace at this time of year,” he said. “In the past I have bowled quick for a few games, then it’s slipped away because my body has got tired.

“Now I’ve got consistent spells, I’m getting quicker in my second and third spell and am still bowling fast in my 20th over.”

Before Overton can think too much about England, he has Surrey’s unbeaten run across the formats to help uphold.

“Things are going well but we cannot rest on our laurels,” he says. “Both sides are so up for it [in the London derby], and we will have to be at our best.”

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