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May 20, 2009
Owais Shah still doesn't believe he has had a fair chance to prove himself at Test level after losing his place following the tour of West Indies. With the success of Ravi Bopara at No.3 the chances of a recall look extremely slim, but Shah is determined to use the upcoming one-day cricket to make a statement to the selectors.
He was finally given his long-awaited chance of a spell in the Test team after Ian Bell was dropped following the defeat at Sabina Park in February. He hit a half century on his recall in Antigua, but failed to make the most of his opportunity in the rest of the series as he twice ran himself out in ideal batting conditions.
"I still believe I haven't had a proper shot at Test cricket," he said ahead of the first ODI against West Indies. "I've had one Test match, a year out, another Test match, a year out and then I've had three in a row. I'd like to have a proper run but again I've got to earn that run, which I believe I will.
"Perhaps I didn't quite set the world on fire," he added about the West Indies tour. "A lot was expected, especially batting at No. 3, the media loves talking about that position, perhaps because we've had a lot of problems in that position over the years. I was kind of hoping I would get at least five or six Test matches in a row to say 'here's your chance, let's see what you can do'.
"Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way but I am as determined as ever and I think I will force my way back into that team."
However, he has all but given up on a place in the Ashes side, well aware that England aren't going to be making changes to the batting line-up for the first Test in Cardiff. "What I've got to do is perform against West Indies in this one-day series, the Twenty20 World Cup and then I go back to county cricket to try to churn out the runs," he said. "I have done it for years and I will carry on doing it because I believe I am still good enough to play Test cricket and I'd like to get a proper shot at it."
Shah found out about his Test omission while he was with the Delhi Daredevils at the IPL. He didn't manage to get a game during his four-week stint but has no regrets about the decision to join, despite it meaning that he couldn't play any early-season county cricket. He doesn't feel that turning out for Middlesex in April would have made any difference to the selectors' decision.
"I don't think me coming back and scoring a load of runs would have got me the nod ahead of Ravi. The England selectors, they know what I can do, I've been doing it for years. I don't think getting runs in a four-day game would have made a massive difference.
"They made a decision to go with Ravi, he played very, very well and was the man-of-the-series. He deserved all the recognition he's getting. All I want to do is now concentrate on getting back into the Test scene by scoring loads of runs this year."
And he still believes he learnt valuable lessons from his time in South Africa which he will be able to take with him into next month's ICC World Twenty20. "It wasn't actually that frustrating because I got an opportunity to watch and learn," he said. "I really did learn a fair bit regarding Twenty20 cricket, how teams approach it and what sort of tactics that are used.
"Also watching some of the best batsmen in the world, [Virender] Sehwag, [Gautam] Gambhir, [AB] de Villiers and [Tillekeratne] Dilshan and just hanging around with the likes of Glenn McGrath and stuff. You grow up watching those guys, so it wasn't such a bad experience."
Unlike his Test position, Shah's one-day and Twenty20 role in the England side is more secure after establishing himself over the last couple of years as a key part of the middle order. With Kevin Pietersen's injury he could find himself moving up to No. 3, the position he bats for Middlesex, and is confident of his limited-overs ability.
"I like to think I am one of the main guys in the one-day team but most importantly you've got to perform. That's something I take a lot of pride from but I want to use that as a stepping stone to the main stuff because, let's be honest, we all want to play Test cricket when we are young."
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