Matthew Potts admits he has a “point to prove” when England’s Test side take on the Lions in Abu Dhabi over the next three days.
The internal tussle represents a final tune up for next month’s tour of Pakistan, a trip the Durham seamer was surprisingly overlooked for.
Potts enjoyed a superb start to his international career earlier this year, claiming 20 wickets in five Tests at the start of the summer, but found himself squeezed out of the team by Ollie Robinson’s return to fitness.
With England favouring outright speed and spin for conditions in Rawalpindi, Multan and Karachi he was also left out of the forthcoming series, but is primed to push his case at the Tolerance Oval after spending the last three weeks on the Lions’ training camp.
The 24-year-old has been drafted in to bolster the Test line-up, which is due to be captained by Ollie Pope on Wednesday as regular skipper Ben Stokes rests up, but is not currently expected to be added to the touring party. Even so, he sees plenty to play for.
“The news about Pakistan was a bit upsetting at the time, but it’s one of those things you learn to deal with,” he told the PA news agency.
“There’s a point to prove, but not in a nasty way, it’s just about saying ‘I’m still here’. If they need someone extra to take to Pakistan, I’m around.
“I’m not naive enough to think I’ll walk out there and clean everyone up, it’s my first overseas trip with a red ball, but it’s a great learning curve. If I can pick up a couple of wickets, bowl nicely, it’s about proving myself in these conditions. It’s all mates together but, yeah, I’ll try and put a bit extra on it.”
Potts understands the selectors’ reasons for looking elsewhere this time, but makes it clear he has designs on building his role in 2023.
“To get distracted about missing out on Pakistan would be naive. We’ve got a big English summer next year and a tour of New Zealand in February which I’ve got my eyes on,” he said.
“This is horses for courses, they’re taking spinners and express pace and only one or two seamers. Looking at conditions, that’s what is going to work.
“Missing one tour is not going to define me as a cricketer or define my England career.”
The senior side is set to bat first on day one and could face up against Jofra Archer, who has been steadily building up his fitness after a sequence of injury problems that have plagued him for 18 months.
Saqib Mahmood is also in training after missing last season with a stress fracture of the back but is not due to bowl. The Lions can call on four players with Test experience, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Potts and Matthew Fisher, while the appearance of highly-rated 18-year-old leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed should also generate interest.