Joe Denly missed out on a first Test century but the England batsman could still reflect on a “pretty special couple of days” on the field and in his personal life.
Denly fell six runs shy of a hundred on day three of the fifth and final Ashes Test, edging Peter Siddle to Steve Smith in the slips.
However, his 94 still proved crucial in helping England build a massive lead of 382 at The Oval as it looks to draw the series after Australia retained the urn at Old Trafford.
The score was the highest of Denly’s brief Test career and came after he left the ground on Friday to witness the birth of his second child.
Denly missed the birth of his first child by a few minutes having received a call from his wife early in the morning when he was playing for Kent at Derby.
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However, he was there on time to see his wife bring a baby girl into the world and was able to appreciate the big picture despite the disappointment of not reaching three figures.
“I obviously headed back a couple of days ago, fortunate enough to be able to leave early,” Denly told a media conference. “I missed the birth of my first child so it was good to get there and see my little girl come into the world, pretty special couple of days.
“It would have been nice to get to that milestone having worked so hard to get into that position, but England are in a very good position, going into day four hopefully we can get a few more runs and put them under pressure.”
Asked how much sleep he had been able to get since the arrival of his daughter, Denly said: “Very good last night because I stayed at the hotel, I got about 10 hours I think, the previous night I had about three hours, certainly caught up on that last night.”
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Denly’s position in the team has come under scrutiny during a series in which he has surpassed 50 only three times.
After his hugely valuable effort at The Oval, however, Denly is hopeful of a place in the squad for England’s tour of New Zealand.
“I think when you’re batting at the top of the order for England there’s always that pressure and expectation from England supporters for you to score runs and do well,” he added.
“It’s been frustrating this series to get starts and not being able to capitalise. I felt pretty good today, it’s a very good bowling attack we’re coming up against each game, which you expect at Test level but this Australia attack is certainly up there and make you work hard for every single run.
“Hopefully I’ve impressed the selectors and those guys that pick these winter tours and we’ll just have to wait and see.”