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'I'm really content with where I'm at' - Laurie Evans on his late-blooming franchise T20 career

He won't be following the IPL auction but Evans' reputation continues to rise after starring role in Big Bash final

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Laurie Evans top-scored in the BBL final  •  Cricket Australia via Getty Images

Laurie Evans top-scored in the BBL final  •  Cricket Australia via Getty Images

Laurie Evans is one of 24 Englishmen in this weekend's IPL auction but is unlikely to be paying much attention to proceedings in Benglauru.
While most of the two-dozen will keep tabs from various time-zones - either in the UK or Asia - Evans will be fast asleep through both days of the auction while holidaying in Antigua, a welcome break with his young family after spending two months away from them in Australia this winter.
Evans had his eye on the Big Bash for a number of years and when the opportunity came up to play for Perth Scorchers this season, he jumped at it. It was floated at various stages that his family - his wife Verity and their young son Josh - might be able to fly out without quarantining, but the BBL's strict Covid-19 protocols eventually rendered that impossible.
It was a sacrifice that proved worthwhile. Evans was the player of the final, hitting 76 not out off 41 balls after coming in at 25 for 4 and playing one of the shots of the season when lofting Dan Christian for six over extra cover. He hopes to return in future years and has boosted his prospects for selection in other leagues in the process.
"There were a lot of highs and lows," Evans tells ESPNcricinfo, shortly before flying to the Caribbean. "It didn't take me long to accept the gig but the harsh reality was that I probably wasn't going to see my family for a long time. There was a bit of talk they might be able to come over, but it became apparent it wasn't going to happen.
"That realisation was pretty tough. It was really difficult over Christmas. Josh had grown up so much in the time I was away and I missed his birthday. I remember getting off the phone as the realisation set in that I wasn't going to see them. There were a few tears in the airport lounge but luckily Adam Voges [Scorchers head coach] was sat right next to me and consoled me - he was brilliant the whole way through."
Western Australia's strict border controls meant the Scorchers only played one home game all season. "It was a brilliant group of people, all going through their own sacrifices - all on the road, not allowed back home," Evans says. "It did gel us together and we played some outstanding cricket - we probably coped with it better than anyone else.
"WA guys like to do things by the book: if you tell them not to go out, they won't. A lot of teams struggled with handling it but we were very good and had most of our best players fit and available most of the time, which was massive.
"It was all worth it in the end when you look back at it - probably one of the best experiences I've had in cricket, given everything that happened. To walk away with the trophy was just amazing really - it couldn't have worked out better."
Evans' main contribution to the Scorchers' success came in the final, but his record for the season - an average of 40.11 and a strike rate of 144.40 - was impressive, batting out of position at No. 6. In the final, he had multiple pain-killing injections on a broken toe and his injury meant he was a marginal pick ahead of Aaron Hardie, but his innings more than vindicated his selection.
"Up until that point we'd dominated most games," Evans says. "Me and the captain, AT [Ashton Turner] would always watch the first 10 overs in the [changing] rooms on the TV. We had a nice little group going which we called TV crew but in the final it was completely different: we were running for our pads quite quickly. TV crew was broken up.
"There was a quote that V [Voges] put out which had a bit of mayo on it, but there is some truth in it: I've put in performances in some big games over the years and it's something I really relish. I knew that me and AT were playing good cricket and wanted to stick to our guns and play positively. The rest is history."
Evans was recruited in part for his experience and his versatility, having played for a number of franchises around the world in the last four years. He was a finisher early in his career, batting at No. 5 or 6 for Warwickshire, but a shift up to No. 3 for Sussex saw him finish as the leading T20 run-scorer in the country in 2018.
Rashid Khan, his Sussex team-mate, liked what he saw and recruited him to play in the Afghanistan Premier League for Kabul Zwanan; deals have followed in the BPL, T10, LPL, CPL and PSL, with the result that since the start of the 2018 Blast, only seven men have scored more T20 runs around the world.
"There's been times in my career - certainly in the last four years - when I've done well but not picked up gigs," he says. "You sit back and think 'why? Who are the people making these decisions? What are they looking at?' It's so difficult because you never know how these things are going to work out.
"Perth said to me they liked my experience and the fact I can bat from No. 1-6 and fill gaps. That's where I provide something slightly different: my adaptability to bat in any position and still have a positive effect on a game. Strike rate has become more important to me than anything because I want to make sure I'm having a massive impact on a game whenever I'm out there."
Evans has improved markedly against spin, thanks partly to the sink-or-swim nature of overseas leagues. Before the start of the 2018 Blast, he averaged 29.33 against spin with a strike rate of 113.40; since then, his average against spin has nearly doubled (to 55.68) and his strike rate has jumped to. 135.01.
"You've got to put yourself in positions where you're going to face world-class spin and in franchise cricket you do that, often in conditions that help it," he says. "It's a bit of chicken and egg: to become better against spin, you need to get selected in tournaments and go and experience it.
"It's all just risk management, really. I loved batting with someone like AT because we run hard and push twos, that's massive in Australia with big grounds. It's always been a work-on. I don't sit still, I always think about how I can get better. There's a few technical things I can add to my game and feel I can get better but I feel like what I'm doing is good.
"The thing I put it all down to is being really content with where I'm at. I haven't played for England, and pushing for that has been a huge driver of mine. But at the same time, I'm loving playing cricket for franchises around the world: it's an amazing experience and I love doing it."
The closest Evans has come to international cricket was an enlarged training squad ahead of England's ODI series against Ireland 18 months ago, and at 34, he is at peace with the idea that he may have to settle for being one of the country's best uncapped short-form players.
"I knew that if I wasn't getting in then, I probably wasn't going to," he admits. "I've always said: 'who are you going to drop?' England at full strength are a bloody good side. The only player to really force his way into the team in the last few years has been Liam Livingstone. They're pretty settled, and you have to do some pretty amazing stuff to get into that side.
"I would happily say that my time has probably gone but you never know. If there's an opportunity around the corner, I'm sure I'd be ready for it. But I'm very happy with where I'm at. I'll just keep on trying to perform and enjoy meeting new people and turning up and trying to… not prove people wrong, but make people walk away and think 'bloody hell, that Laurie is a decent player'."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98