SCOTT Borthwick is hoping to force his way back into England contention this summer – and help to inspire Durham’s challenge for three trophies.
The leg-spinning all-rounder, from Sunderland, has not played for his country since facing Australia in his first Test match last January.
However, the 24-year-old is determined to knock on the door of the national selectors again in the coming months after enjoying a hugely beneficial time in Sri Lanka over the winter.
Borthwick, who bats at three for Durham, played first-class cricket in January and February for Chilaw, and is confident that spell in the sub-continent has developed his game significantly.
He told the Echo: “I had a fantastic experience in Sri Lanka, and it was a really good challenge for me, especially my bowling.
“I learned a lot, especially with the way they play spin over there.
“It was a great trip.
“It was a massive challenge, just going over there playing on completely different surfaces, and they have a completely different mentality with the way they play their cricket.
“It was a fantastic challenge for me and one which I really enjoyed.
“I managed to get a few runs and a couple of wickets, so it was a good trip all-round.”
Borthwick scored one century during his time in Sri Lanka, but he feels the greatest benefit of the trip will be in his bowling.
It is that part of the game, he believes, which will determine whether he wins an England recall.
He added: “It didn’t always go according to plan, but I think I learned a lot about how to go about spin bowling and how to get people out, rather than just bowling.
“Hopefully I’m developing, improving and learning.
“It’s important to keep learning about yourself and how to bowl.
“As far as leg spinners go, I’m pretty young at 24, so hopefully I can keep learning and get plenty of wickets this year to knock on the door for England.
“For me, it’s about trying to string performances together, get some wickets and keep scoring runs.
“I think my bowling is what’s going to get me back in (with England).
“I think that’s the most important thing and hopefully I can get that right, get bowling well again and get the confidence to keep taking wickets.
“Hopefully, if I do that, I can be knocking on that door again.”
Durham, meanwhile, went into last season’s County Championship as champions, and went on to finish fifth.
However, they won the Royal London One-Day Cup, and Borthwick says both of those competitions – as well as the Natwest T20 Blast – are winnable for the Emirates Durham ICG-based side.
They will complete their pre-season preparations with a three-day game against Durham UCCE from next Tuesday, while their first County Championship game of the season, at Somerset, will follow on the Sunday.
Borthwick added: “We’ll be going into all three competitions to win, and hopefully we can defend that one-day trophy.
“It was another brilliant season for the club last year, winning more silverware, and we’ll be going into the season trying to win all three formats.
“It’s my home county, and where I’ve played since Under-11s, so I’m always proud to play for Durham.
“There are quite a few of us local lads in the dressing room who have that pride and passion to wear the shirt, and we all just can’t wait to get the season started.”