He may be missing out on a pre-season trip to Barbados but, after his shock call-up to England’s World Twenty20 squad, that is a disappointment Liam Dawson is happy to live with.
The Swindon-born all-rounder was the rabbit pulled from the hat in England’s squad of 15 for a tournament they won in style in the Caribbean in 2010.
His call-up came after two successful series in T20 and 50-over cricket for the Lions, England’s development squad, in the United Arab Emirates this winter and comes on the back of a consistent run for his county, Hampshire, who can boast of making up a fifth of England’s squad.
Dawson will join James Vince and Hampshire new boy Reece Topley on the plane to India and, after keeping his selection under wraps for the best part of a week, he cannot wait to join up with England in South Africa this weekend.
“I found out on Friday,” he told The Independent. “I was planning to be with Hampshire on their pre-season tour of Barbados when the tournament was on but I can probably live with missing that for a World Cup.
“I thought after the two Lions series there could be a small outside chance of potentially being involved, but I wasn’t sure what squad they would go with. Everything has happened very quickly in the past couple of months but I’m obviously delighted to be on it.”
Dawson will be joining an England squad brimming with attacking intent and one that has a genuine chance of winning a tournament in front of India’s T20-crazy crowds.
The likes of Jos Buttler, Joe Root, Alex Hales and Jason Roy have captured the imagination in the shorter formats in the past 12 months, and have given England an attacking edge that has been sorely lacking in recent global gatherings.
Although Dawson is a regular in Hampshire’s top six, as well as the county’s youngest ever first-class century-maker, it is his bowling rather than his batting that is likely to be in demand when England begin their campaign against West Indies in Bombay on 16 March.
“The most exciting thing about it is going into that squad and that environment with the kind of cricket England are playing at the moment,” Dawson said. “I think I’ll be used as a bowler primarily. The batting line-up they’ve got at the moment has some really explosive players in there, but if I do play then I’ll love every minute of it.
“I’ve played quite a lot of cricket for someone who’s only 25 but I think I’ve improved a hell of a lot in the past three years, especially as a bowler. It looks like England have seen something they like in me as an all-rounder and now I’m going to the World Cup. I just can’t wait.”
England may have seen something they like but their coach, Trevor Bayliss, admitted he had not seen him play.
Among those preparing to greet him when he joins the squad will be Stuart Broad, who missed the cut for the tournament. Broad will, however, play his first one-day international since the disastrous World Cup campaign a year ago as England try to seal the series against South Africa in the fourth match in Johannesburg on Friday.
He returns to the side after a poor display by the England pace attack in the heavy defeat in the last ODI at Centurion on Tuesday. It is also the same Wanderers ground where Broad came up with his spectacular spell 6 for 17 to skittle the home side in the third Test last month.