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25th February 2009

Mark Davies Lions Tour Diary – This is a dream

“To have the chance to represent your country at a sport you love is every kid’s dream and as a youngster I was no different.

Having last played for an England cricket team at under-19 level, I now have a chance over the next few weeks to represent the England Lions as we play a series of Test and ODI matches against New Zealand’s A team.

The first I knew of my selection was when my phone rang just after Christmas. I was at home relaxing and then the call came from David Parsons, the National Performance Director, telling me I had made the squad.

To say it made my New Year is a massive understatement.

For the next few days, I think I was probably the happiest man in the North- East.

As a professional cricketer, I’ve been away many times before in the off-season and enjoyed winters playing for club sides in Australia and South Africa, but this tour promises to be a little different.

I’ve never been to New Zealand before. Not only is it a country I’ve always wanted to visit, but hopefully it will be a stepping stone towards fulfilling a dream and playing international cricket for England.

The preparation has been pretty intensive, but I’ve really enjoyed the challenge.

Throughout January and early February, the squad met for three days every week at the National Cricket Performance Centre at Loughborough University to be put through our paces.

The days were pretty full and included weight sessions in the morning followed by skills sessions in the nets.

We’d then tend to break for lunch before having more net sessions and then some cardio work late in the afternoon, which often included a long run. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so fit in January.  It’s been great to spend some time with Kevin Shine, the fast-bowling coach.

We get on really well and have developed a good relationship over the past month.  We’re working on a few things that should help me do well in New Zealand.  The weekly training session also helped bring the players together.

I know most of the lads from playing county cricket for Durham, but it’s one thing playing against the likes of Rob Key and Ravi Bopara to living with them 24-7 for seven weeks.

As we fly to New Zealand, I can’t help but look forward to the next month, although part of me does wonder if this flight will ever end!

It’s a chance to fulfil a dream and I hope I can grab it with both hands.

Feb 22-23 – Warm up game vs New Zealand Emerging Players

25-26 – Warm up game vs New Zealand Emerging Players

March 1-4 – First Test vs New Zealand A

7-10 – Second Test vs New Zealand A1

13 – First ODI vs New Zealand A

16 – Second ODI vs New Zealand A

19 – Twenty20 vs New Zealand A

Read Mark’s thoughts on the Lions tour every week here on the website or in The Northern Echo.