Keaton Jennings is playing the long game with regards to his international prospects with England.
The Lancashire opener played in England’s last Test match against the West Indies in St Lucia in February, but he is a long way from a certain starter for the Ashes next month having not scored the runs required to nail down his spot.
When asked about his international prospects Jennings has always stressed that county performances must come first and that he is just taking it one game at a time and not looking too far ahead.
But with the Ashes now firmly on the horizon, has that changed?
“I suppose the view of taking it one game at a time does become challenged as that series gets closer,” he said.
“But from my point of view, nothing changes in terms of what I’m trying to do.
“I’m trying to win games of cricket for Lancs by scoring as many runs as I can.
“For me, I’m not only looking at this series coming up. I’m looking at the next five or six years of a career where, hopefully, if I do get that opportunity in international cricket I’m ready.
“If that means it’s on August 1 for that first Ashes Test, I need to make sure I’m ready sooner.
“If it’s in two years’ time, then I’ve got two years to get my game and life in shape where hopefully I can sustain that career.”
Jennings signed with Lancashire from Durham at the end of the 2017 season and played against his former employers in the Specsavers County Championship draw at Sedbergh School this week, scoring 11 and nought.
“It was quite interesting this week to go and play against my mates,” he said.
In 19 first-class matches – 18 in the Championship – for Lancashire, Jennings has scored 1,013 runs with three centuries.
In 16 one-day matches for the Red Rose, he has scored 791 runs with one hundred and eight 50s, and in T20 has totalled 239 runs from nine appearances with two half-centuries.
In all three formats, he has bettered his career average, particularly against the white ball.
“It’s been an interesting 18 months,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed it with Lancashire, and it’s been the step for my career that I’ve needed.
“It’s been a change which I’ve loved and can hopefully continue to be successful for me.
“That’s down to Glen Chapple, to Paul Allott and all my team-mates.
“They’ve settled me down quite quickly and made me feel at home. That’s a big tick in the Red Rose box.
“Last season was hard work. To be relegated by one point was a bitter pill.
“But this year has been fantastic. We got to the semi-final of the One-Day Cup and are near the top of the log in the Championship with a game in hand.”
Unbeaten Lancashire had the better of their draw against Durham, who fought hard, and they are now three points behind leaders Glamorgan.
The Red Rose have played eight and have a game in hand ahead of Sunday’s trip to face Northamptonshire at Wantage Road, and they are on course for an immediate return to Division One.
Jennings added: “This season is experience in the bag for a lot of guys, essentially.
“A guy like Saqib Mahmood has played more cricket this year than he has in a long time, for example.
“We have guys with lots of experience – Graham Onions and Jimmy Anderson – and then a lot of younger guys who are benefiting from them being around.”