Jade Dernbach wants to use Surrey's return to Division One of the County Championship to bowl himself into contention for a call-up to England's Test side. Dernbach hopes strong performances in the opening championship matches will help his cause for selection against West Indies in May.
Dernbach, 25, bounced back from a disappointing tour of India in October, where England lost the ODI series 5-0, to play a large part in England's victories in the ODI and T20 series against Pakistan in the UAE. He now wants to push on and earn a first call up in Test cricket.
"We've got four championship games before the end of April and if I can take wickets ahead of the Test matches against the West Indies then that'd be great," Dernbach said. "Now we're in the first division, the standard's going to be that little bit better and there are players in the England set-up that are affiliated to Division Two clubs. Division One is held in a higher regard so if I can come and take wickets and prove that I've got the skills to be Test bowler than that would hold me in good stead."
He faces a challenge to break into a Test side brimming with high-quality fast bowling. James Anderson and Stuart Broad have become England's set partnership with the new ball and Steven Finn, with his highly-acclaimed one-day showings against India and Pakistan over the winter, and Tim Bresnan, who has batting ability to fill the allrounder's slot, are considered the main options to complete the attack.
But Chris Tremlett's absence from the West Indies Tests because of injury eases Dernbach's potential route into the England side. He will have the chance to play in five matches before England's first Test of the season on May 17. "I'm pretty premature in my international career so there's a lot to learn," he said. "But hopefully at the start of the season I'll put my name forward for Test honours."
He feels he has developed his cricket since taking a large knock in confidence after England's drubbing before Christmas. "India was at the end of what was a very long summer and things just didn't go right," he said. "Conditions were alien to a lot of us younger guys who hadn't necessary played there before and India were ready for the backlash after the summer over here. We didn't really envisage things going that way but we've learned from our experience."
Dernbach took 1 for 168 on that tour. Suddenly the tattoos and arsenal of slower balls looked less threatening. He turned to David Saker, England's bowling coach. "David's been brilliant to me ever since I've been involved with England. It was just a matter of talking to him and Andy Flower and formulating a plan."
After the debriefing from the Indian tour, Dernbach took some time off. "I totally got away from cricket and spent some time with the family and had a holiday which was great to clear my mind," he said, before describing how his cricket didn't exactly get back on track in Australia's Big Bash League. "I was unfortunate to be in a team that didn't necessary want me; these things happen. I'd love to have another chance to go back and prove that I'm capable."
But despite ambitions to break into England's Test side, Dernbach has a more modest modest yardstick for what will constitute a successful season. "If I can have what I had last year, wickets and trophies for Surrey than that would be fantastic."