After a watershed season, in which he scored his maiden first-class ton against Northants before notching another against Kent, Derbyshire’s Ross Whiteley is hoping to catch the attention of the England selectors.
The talented left-hander set tongues wagging with an impressive return of 644 Championship runs at 40.25, as well as some hard-hitting Twenty20 cameos, and is currently developing his game at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Australia.
“I’m sure every player’s aim is to play international cricket,” said the 23-year-old. “Hopefully I can get a go with the England Lions in the next couple of years. I think I can play international cricket. There is no point playing the game if you don’t want to play at the highest level, so that’s definitely my aim.
“I thought this season went really well and I was very happy with my batting. The only down point was my bowling, as I would have liked to have been more of a threat and to become a genuine allrounder.
“But overall, I was over the moon with my year. My highlight was the hundred at Northants and also the Friends Life T20 competition. I really enjoyed playing in that competition and batting alongside Martin Guptill was a great experience.”
Whiteley believes he has benefited from being allowed to go out and play his natural game, without fear of recrimination. “I think I have found a new confidence. I had a really good winter with the lads and I was around the set-up when I came back from university and had a whole year with the first team. We have such a great team spirit and it gave me the confidence to go out and play my natural game which came off really well.”
Whiteley hopes that the experience gained in Adelaide this winter will stand him in good stead when he returns to Derby ahead of the 2012 campaign and says the positive effects are already starting to show. “I have settled in really well, it’s brilliant out here. Obviously it’s tough work but there is a great bunch of lads at the Academy and at the club I’m playing for. My first game went really well – I got 70-odd and a five-fer which was a great start – and I have tried to keep my standards up from then.
“We have come up against some good sides recently and lost the last couple of games, but we have a good team so hopefully we can put some more good results together in the next couple of weeks.
“It is hard work out here, including dealing with the weather, which is starting to get a lot hotter. It was 35 degrees this weekend. To run in and bowl in that heat and on a wicket that isn’t offering too much movement is difficult but it’s a great experience.
“At the Academy we are working a lot on the one-day game and also the mental side of things. I think coming out here and being able to train every day in harsh conditions is going to toughen me up. Hopefully, when I return to the English season it will pay off.”
Whiteley is clear in his goal when the 2012 campaign begins in April – to secure promotion with Derbyshire into Division One of the County Championship. “We have a great chance of gaining promotion next year. We showed last year we are improving and we were up there until the last few games. We’ve made a good signing in David Wainwright and – if we can get a good overseas player – we have a good chance. I hope the lads are wintering well and I think we have a great opportunity.”