Surrey v Glamorgan, LV= Championship Div 2, The Oval, 2nd day

Outlook brighter for Davies

Steve Davies has put some tough times behind him and hopes the influence of Graeme Smith and Kevin Pietersen will spark a successful phase in his career

Vithushan Ehantharajah

April 7, 2014

Comments: 4 | Text size: A | A

Steven Davies was run out for 34, Surrey v Warwickshire, The Oval, May, 23, 2012
Steven Davies recognises he faces an important season © Getty Images
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That Steven Davies can reflect on such a devastating part of his life with such candour, barely two years on, speaks volumes. Both his strength of character as a person, and the support offered to him from his family, friends and Surrey have allowed him to emerge from dark days that no one could blame him for succumbing to.

Prior to a traumatic 2012 season, he had passed 1,000 runs in each of the previous three years. After the death of Tom Maynard, he carried on selflessly but to the detriment of his own game and well-being. He finished the summer with just 438 Championship runs, battled depression and seriously contemplated giving up the game altogether.

"I've never really dealt with death before," he said. "My grandparents died but, you know, they were old and is an expected sort of thing. To lose one of my best friends and a close teammate was really tough."

"If I'm honest, I don't think I should have carried on playing that year. I had a long discussion with my parents and I thought, with me as a senior player, I've got a responsibility to help the younger players who are also dealing with what I'm dealing with. I tried to hang in there."

High-profile support came from Elton John, who was able to relate to Davies' close, personal loss. As well as an empathetic ear, he also offered him sanctuary in the form of time away from the game - a three month period where cricket rarely crossed his mind. It did Davies the world of good. The 2013 season was approached with a sense of perspective and a great deal of hunger.

"I was pumped for last season," he states, pretty emphatically. "But while I played pretty well [867 runs at 45.63, with two centuries] it was a huge shame we got relegated. A big club like this needs to be playing first division cricket. Hopefully this year we can put that right."

A familiar frustration for Surrey fans is Davies' knack of getting out after playing himself in. His "negligence", if that's not too harsh a term, is all the more frustrating given how effortless he makes batting look. When he gets going, there are few better players to watch. It's a chink in his game that he has been seriously addressing.

Ground to make up after rain-hit day

  • Only 12.5 overs of play were possible on the second day at Kia Oval before rain set in, in which time Glamorgan's allrounder Jim Allenby took the wickets of Jason Roy and Tom Curran, leaving Surrey 209 for 7 and much ground for both sides to make up in the final two days.
  • Davies' assessment that fifty more runs will represent a good innings' work for Surrey is fair given the conditions going forward. The forecast for days three and four suggest there's a chance there may not be further unscheduled interruptions.

He began the season well, sharing a stand of 122 in 50 overs with Zafar Ansari against Glamorgan. Davies' contribution of 67 off 153 balls contained a great deal of restraint as usual moments of class you expect from a player with his range of shots. It seems he is already reaping the rewards of a winter spent curbing his enthusiasm.

"It really is as simple as batting in a net and focussing on leaving more balls. For me, that was quite a big thing as I'd say, maybe a few years ago, I'd be playing shots in the nets, feeling good and all that. But in the winter I solely focussed some sessions to just not getting out.

"I think I did that fairly well yesterday. It was pretty difficult but I was happy with my tempo. It wasn't my usual innings but it felt pretty good."

Davies was also part of the group of players that attended Kevin Pietersen's spin masterclass at The Oval's indoor school. As evidenced by his Sky Sports masterclass with Ian Ward, Pietersen has no trouble articulating his brilliant yet unorthodox methodology. Even Davies, a good player of spin bowling, learned a lot.

"A lot of what he was talking to us about was self-belief. As players, we were discussing it before we went down there: "Oh, is he going to be talking to us about switch-hitting a guy for six? We can't do that!" We're not Kevin Pietersen, you know what I mean?

"But it was all stuff that he learned over his career, because he's had his issues with spin and overcome them. People like Graham Ford, Graeme Smith and Kev have huge amounts of international experience, and that's where I want to be -playing international cricket. Just to be around to learn and talk to these guys is great."

England's winter of discontent, and the casualties taken, mean a host of positions are up for grabs, including that of wicketkeeper after Matt Prior was dropped for the final Ashes Test and Jonny Bairstow deputised in less than convincing fashion. For the first time in a while, Davies has allowed himself to set his sights on adding to his 13 international appearances to date.

"I've been on a few Test tours and, if I'm honest, I never felt I was going to play, with Matt Prior doing so well. I wasn't in a great mental place in the last few years and England wasn't something at the forefront of my mind.

"Now, with everything that went on in Australia, I genuinely feel now it's a great opportunity for someone to take that spot, whether that's me or someone else."

"That in itself means it's a big year for me."

Promotion, as he recognised only too well, would do for a start.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (April 9, 2014, 19:40 GMT)

when i've seen Davies i've not been convinced by his keeping. Fine batsman with a very good record but i'd feel safer with Prior

Posted by   on (April 8, 2014, 9:45 GMT)

Steven Davies looks cut out for international cricket.He held his own with the limited chances he received. He is proper wicket keeper and a proper batsman. The lack of runs came despite his good techniique and more to do with nervous guy finding his feet , rather than technical issues which would be difficult to overcome as is the case with Bairstow and Kieswetter. As is the case, his keeping is a notch above them.The time is right for a test cap and nice runs wait for him with two weak attacks touring for 7 tests.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (April 8, 2014, 8:22 GMT)

It would be perverse if Davies never got an opportunity to play Test cricket. He is a better, neater keeper than the current contenders (Keiswetter, Buttler and Prior). Unlike any of those three, he looks 'born to keep'. Similarly, he is a stylish left-handed bat who is capable of scoring rapidly and heavily, with superb timing. The last time he was passed over (in favour of Prior) the line given was that he wasn't a galvanising enough influence in the field - didn't shout enough to them, etc. - which I thought about as weak an excuse as it was possible to dream up. Nonetheless, the prejudice was enough to persuade the selectors that he should be passed over. With a new regime should come a new look and if they are clear thinking, then they will trust the evidence of their eyes. A sign that England is really moving on this season would be to take Steve Davies as the Test wicketkeeper/batsman.

Posted by CodandChips on (April 8, 2014, 7:23 GMT)

Hopefully he can score some runs. He is still my fist choice test keeper

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