Dan Lawrence admits he led the way as he approached what would have been a dream century in his first Test innings.
‘I started thinking about my party when I got to three figures,’ said the Essex batsman of that big day in Galle as he made his way to 73.
‘That’s probably not great, but when you’re in the middle of it, things get stuck in your head.
English batter Dan Lawrence hopes to salute the stands in Tests this summer
‘I thought,’ Am I going to be calm here or pretty aggressive with my party? ‘ I think it would have been a bit reserved. Take off the classic helmet, try to look cool and don’t show how excited you are inside. I would have gone for that, but to be honest I probably should have just kept going. ‘
He shouldn’t have to wait too long before he can plan that party time again. Lawrence looked like he belonged to the top tier in a demanding first winter of test cricket and has every chance to start for England against New Zealand at Lord’s in June.
“I was really disappointed that I didn’t make a hundred,” added Lawrence to that debut in the first test against Sri Lanka in January. ‘It’s a stupid sport, isn’t it? You are never satisfied with what you get.
‘If I had gotten 70 odds before hitting I would have broken your hand off, but when you get out you always wish for more. It would have been a fairytale start to get a hundred, but looking back now, I’m happy with 73. ‘
Lawrence missed a dream century in his first Test innings against Sri Lanka
23-year-old Lawrence is an engaging character who is easily confident and does not sound arrogant. He has long felt destined to play for England and when the chance came, he responded with two half centuries in five Tests against Sri Lanka and India, moving from five to three and then seven. It was crucial that he looked and felt at home.
“Test cricket was absolutely as challenging as I thought it would be,” he tells Sportsmail back in Chelmsford to prepare for the start of the County Championship season next week. ‘I had these images in my head of what I expected and the point is that I had prepared myself to make my debut in England. It’s what I would think about all the time.
‘So I didn’t expect to start at Bunsens (turning fields in Sri Lanka and India). It was really tough against the spinners at times, but I think it can’t get much harder than it was out there. And it felt like I got a monkey off my back to play a test. ‘
What Lawrence hadn’t prepared for was to become the first player to make his England Test debut behind closed doors.
‘It was such a shame not to have fans there because Galle is such a beautiful site and apparently it’s brilliant when the Barmy Army is there,’ he said. “It would have been great to play in front of an audience, but honestly, I wouldn’t change it for the world right now.”
The 23-year-old looked like he belonged to the highest level in a demanding first test winter
Apart from maybe his family there. Lawrence lost mother Claire to a long illness last year and he has a close relationship with father Mark, the groundskeeper at his home at Chingford Cricket Club, and younger brother Tom, a professional wrestler named David Wreckham.
“I had no idea Dad was going to be on the radio after my debut and I was a little worried about what he would say, but he did a really good job,” Lawrence said. And I saw in a newspaper that there was a headline about my brother that said ‘LB WWE’, which was kind of funny. The Chingford guys loved that.
‘Dad lives and breathes cricket and was beaten to pieces for me. In every conversation I have with him, he spends 20 minutes talking about how good his grass is. ‘
Mark Lawrence may have a chance to compare his Kimberley Way in North East London turf to Lord’s sacred turf when his son makes his home testing debut on June 2.
Dan gave himself every chance with half a century at seven in the final test against India. It was quite a contrast to being asked to hit three in the first Test at the last minute, when Zak Crawley slipped and injured himself on the floor of a locker room.
Lawrence finished the series strongly in India, scoring fifty in the final Test in March
“I’ll hit anywhere,” insisted Lawrence, who hadn’t been that high for Essex in four years. ‘If I am asked to hit nine o’clock, I will hit at nine. I really enjoyed the three challenge, even though I wasn’t that successful there.
Wherever I hit in India, the ball would still spin sharply and the atmosphere would still be hostile. Seven felt low, but I was able to hit with freedom and play a few shots. ‘
Now he has seven championship games with the 2019 defending champion and last year’s Bob Willis Trophy winners before the first test to put his claim as an alternative to Ollie Pope in the middle order. Or for one of the places that can be made available by IPL absentees.
And maybe for a first Test century, that celebration may well come to the home of cricket. “I will certainly remember that when I play against New Zealand,” he added. ‘I don’t know how I’ll react when I get to the magic hundred. I just hope I get there so I can find out what I’m going to do. ‘
There seems to be little doubt that that moment will come. Probably sooner than later.