England new boy Westley grateful for 'role model' Cook's example

2017-07-20 22:11
Cricket bat and ball (Getty Images)

London - Essex batsman Tom Westley will hope to follow in the footsteps of his "role model" and county colleague Alastair Cook when he makes his England debut in next week's third Test against South Africa at The Oval.

The England and Wales Cricket Board announced Thursday that Westley, 28, would bat at number three after Gary Ballance was ruled out with a finger injury.

Ballance suffered the injury while batting during England's crushing 340-run defeat in the second Test at Trent Bridge as South Africa levelled the four-match series at 1-1 in emphatic fashion.

The Yorkshire left-hander would, however, have been under pressure to retain his position even if fully fit.

Ballance has averaged a meagre 21.25 in four innings so far this series, with a top score of 34, in what is the Zimbabwe-born batsman's third crack at Test cricket.

England were bowled out for just 133 on the fourth day at Trent Bridge, with Ballance dismissed for four.

Westley has been in good form for County Championship leaders Essex so far this season, scoring 478 First Division runs, including two centuries, at an average of 53.11.

Significantly, he also made 106 not out against a strong South Africa attack for the second-string England Lions at Worcester last month.

Opening batsman Cook, still a key member of the Test side and England's all-time leading run-scorer in the format, was among the first to celebrate Westley's call-up.

"Cooky called me this morning, just to say congratulations, the usual stuff between team-mates," Westley told the ECB's website.

"If he could help in any way, he'd be on the end of a phone. He was in the car with his daughter Elsie actually, so she said congratulations to me as well."

Westley added: "I've learnt so much from Cooky over the years. One of the big things is his demeanour, not just as a batsman but also as a person.

"He's an unbelievable role model, and after seeing him close-up with Essex for so long I'm looking forward to seeing him with England.

"We've had quite a few good partnerships with Essex, so hopefully we can do the same for England.

"I appreciate everything in Test cricket is going to be another step up in intensity, but I can take confidence from having faced the majority of their bowlers a few weeks ago and scored some runs."

After taking calls from national selector James Whitaker and Cook, Westley spoke to someone else who has been a key influence -- his father.

"My dad has been the most influential person in my career. He was the first person I spoke to after the news came through," Westley said.

"He's a builder, and he's not known for being very emotional. But he told me he was very proud, and said he might have to nip around the back of the scaffolding to shed a tear -- in a monotone way, obviously."

Westley could be joined in the side by another newcomer to Test cricket in Middlesex batsman Dawid Malan, also included in a 13-man squad for what will be the 100th Test at The Oval, which starts on July 27.

Malan made a match-winning England debut in their Twenty20 series-clinching victory against South Africa in Cardiff last month, scoring 78 off 44 balls.

He averages 42.50 in the County Championship so far this season, with a top score of 115.

Malan's county colleague Toby Roland-Jones, also uncapped, will vie for a place among England's pace attack with Durham's Mark Wood.

Fast bowler Wood has struggled for form this series but has been passed fit following a heel problem.

Read more on:    england  |  tom westley  |  cricket


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