Stories of superstitious cricketers not moving round the dressing room during tense moments are not uncommon, but Joe Denly took the fear of bad juju to extremes when he found himself confined to to the loo during Ben Stokes’ historic knock at Headingley.
Denly said while some of his team-mates were enjoying the best seats in the house as Stokes and Jack Leach carried England to the most unlikely of victories, the only throne available to him was of the porcelain variety.
“I’m not a very good watcher of cricket when I get out,” Denly told BBC Radio 5 Live. “The first 10-15 minutes is sulking and reliving how I got out. That last hour I was stuck in the urinal – toilet area of the changing room.
“There were a few guys out back in the physio room, a few guys in viewing area and we all stayed in our position and patrolled our area for the final hour. I felt every time I sat down and watched a bit of cricket we seemed to lose a wicket. I took myself off to the lovely urinals and paced around there for the last hour.”
Denly confirmed he would open the batting in place of Jason Roy, who will drop down to No. 4, as reported by ESPNcricinfo last week.
“I got a call from Joe Root after a bit of time off and he said he’d like me to go at the top of the order and try to get us off to a good start,” Denly said.
“Obviously Jason is going to bat four and that’s great for English cricket. With Jason Roy in the team we are a better team and with him coming in at four, hopefully with the new ball worn off and myself and Rory Burns doing our job at the top, it allows him to come in and play his way. He’s a great player to have there.”
Denly was England’s top-scorer with 12 in their woeful first innings of 67 all out while his 50 in the second innnings was overshadowed by Stokes’ match-winning 135. But Denly didn’t mind.
“Obviously it was a proud moment but as any top-order batter you come off after getting out wanting more runs,” Denly said. “Having made 50 it would have been nice to go on and get a bigger score, but thankfully we had ‘King Stokes’ coming in and finishing it for us.
“I don’t think it’s going to sink in for a while. It was a remarkable day and one that will be remembered forever, so to be part of it was very special.”