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Josh Bohannon primed for England chance after Caribbean false dawn

Lancashire batter seeks to build on promise of breakthrough season in 2021

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Josh Bohannon knows a strong start to the season for Lancashire could propel him into the England reckoning  •  Getty Images

Josh Bohannon knows a strong start to the season for Lancashire could propel him into the England reckoning  •  Getty Images

When and if Josh Bohannon earns an England Test call-up, he will be more prepared than most for the media demands that invariably follow.
Bohannon's name was mentioned prominently in the press before the squad to play West Indies in the Caribbean was announced in early February. On the day the touring party was due to be released, Bohannon's phone rang after a reporter had received a tip-off that he would be included.
"There was obviously a lot of chat, especially on the Monday before it got announced on the Tuesday," Bohannon explained. "Funnily enough, I did an interview for Sky on the Tuesday. They thought I'd been picked, which I didn't know about - and then obviously the news broke that I wasn't in it.
"It was interesting. He rang me saying, 'congrats' and I said, 'what are you congratulating me for?' He said, 'I've heard you've been picked' and I said, 'well, you know more than I do' and then obviously I hadn't been picked.
"He asked me to answer them as if I'd been picked and I said, 'how are you supposed to do that?' It was a real awkward conversation. It was just an interesting chat really. I didn't know what to say. It was obviously gutting, but it was nice to be spoken about, I guess."
While Bohannon's call-up did not materialise, the fact that his name came up as much as it did underlines the extent to which his reputation has grown in the last two years, and reinforces the notion that a strong start to the season for Lancashire will put him in the conversation for the first home Test of the English summer, against New Zealand at Lord's on June 2.
Bohannon scored 853 runs at 53.31 last season, the most of any batter who played in Division One (and the 11th-most overall) and his career average of 43.42 in first-class cricket compares favourably with most young batters in the country. Having recently turned 25, there is still plenty of room for improvement, too.
His form for Lancashire last season earned him a call-up to the England Lions tour to Australia and though the trip was interrupted by inclement weather, his second-innings 51 against Australia A was another demonstration of his ability to the England hierarchy - even if there has been significant turnover in personnel since then.
"It was obviously very nice to get away and not just spend [the winter] in the indoor school," Bohannon said, speaking at Lancashire's press day at Emirates Old Trafford last week. "It's obviously nice to score some runs. I'd have liked some more as always, but it was nice to come away and have a sense of belonging in that environment.
"I just hope I can keep performing. If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't. I can only try my best and try and keep knocking on that door. The one thing that is blatantly obvious is that when people do get in, they do get given a chance. Hopefully, if I do get some more runs again this year, or whenever it is that I get a chance, hopefully I can stay in for a while and prove that I'm good enough to bat in that top order for England.
"Cricket is hard enough as it is playing for Lancs without putting all that pressure on my shoulders. People have gone wrong in the past, almost thinking too far ahead - 'if I do this, I'll get a go'. So I've done a lot of work with the psychologist just to make sure that every day I'm in the right space and I think the more that I enjoy cricket, the better chance I've got of scoring runs."
Working with psychologists has helped Bohannon gain perspective. "I'm quite a fiery bloke so it's just about being able to channel that anger when it's needed on the field and pick a battle in the game, as opposed to just always being angry," he said.
"Off the field I'm very calm. But a lot of stuff on the field gets in my head... it's about being able to channel that. Last year was certainly the best state of mind I've been in in cricket, really enjoying it, and obviously I had some success so hopefully [it's the] same again this year."
Bohannon started the season at No. 3 for Lancashire, making 19 in their 10-wicket win against Kent at Canterbury, having batted at No. 4 for the majority of last season. He may yet shuffle back down the order once Keaton Jennings is fit again, but said he was comfortable batting in either position.
He hopes that his "simple" technique will serve him well if he makes the step up to international cricket, and feels as though he is prepared for the heightened scrutiny that he will face this year as one of the key batters in Lancashire's line-up.
"Who knows until you play? I've no idea," he said. "But having spoken to a lot of coaches and stuff, there's not a great deal of moving parts [in my technique]. It's quite simple, which hopefully will stand me in good stead if I do get a chance.
"I've played enough now that people are aware where you score and that sort of thing. It's the same as any season. It doesn't take people long anyway to work out where you score."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98