Essex star Tom Westley ready for clash with Hampshire

Tom Westley in action. Picture: PA SPORT

Tom Westley in action. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Tom Westley has the trophy, caps and scars to show for a rollercoaster year. It somehow fits the narrative that the late September afternoon when Essex were presented with the golden Specsavers County Championship goblet should be the day England announced his omission from the winter Ashes party, writes Martin Smith.

“It was probably my greatest year in cricket,” Westley says. “It all happened at once. To play for England was a boyhood dream come true. But it was obviously bitterly disappointing getting dropped (by England) at the end of the summer.”

Worse was to follow. On the first day of the first match on the consolation Lions tour to Australia, Westley suffered a break to the middle finger of his left hand that brought his winter plans to a grinding halt.

“It was actually fielding,” says the batsman. “I was fielding on the boundary and I dropped a high ball late in the day. I didn’t realise how serious the finger was at the time. We thought it might just be a dislocation and there was talk of me batting later on that evening.

“Scans went back and forth from England and Brisbane and next thing I knew I was on the plane home and having surgery two days afterwards.”

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As fate would have it, Westley comes face to face at Southampton tomorrow with his successor – and predecessor several times removed – in the England No3 slot in the Hampshire captain James Vince. Comparisons are likely to be made.

“I understand that people are obviously going to talk about how we get on, and I suppose from the media aspect it adds a bit of spice to the game,” Westley, 29, says. “But I think I’ve been good for a number of years now, and not looked sideways at what other people are doing.”

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Westley is comfortable again with bat in glove, and has a first-class 60 and a couple of 40s in the scorebook already; fielding with a swollen digit is another matter. “I’ve taken myself out of the slips for the time being because I don’t want the finger to flare up, or anything more sinister happen to it.

“I’ve been guesting at mid-on for a while. My target for the season used to be to take as many catches as I could, but it looks as if that’s going to be out the window!”

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