Surrey’s Zafar Ansari has declared his delight – and surprise – to receive his first senior England international call-up.
The all-rounder has been named in an initial 11-man party, which includes teammate Jason Roy, to play Ireland next Friday in Dublin having impressed in the England Player Performance Squad tour to Sri Lanka during the winter.
And the former Hampton School head-boy celebrated by taking four Essex wickets in Surrey’s opening home fixture in the County Championship at the Kia Oval, which ended in a draw today.
“I’m thrilled to be involved with the England set up,” said Ansari.
“I am surprised it has come about as quickly as it has but I guess England are looking for alternatives after the World Cup disappointment and maybe I’m part of that.
“I think the Sri Lanka tour might have helped with my selection. That was four weeks with a group of coaches who are involved in the England set up and I had a good trip out there.
“If you can impress people on those sorts of trips then it puts you in the frame for selection and I also had a good year last year which I’m sure was taken into account.”
Ansari had his best season in 2014, scoring more than 1,000 runs in all formats and taking 24 first-class wickets with his left-arm spin, while Roy was the leading run-scorer in the Natwest T20 Blast last year.
The squad will be added to once the Test side for the third Test against the West Indies is named on Friday.
Ansari, 23, who gained a double first from Cambridge University and is now in the midst of a 40,000-word post research project at Royal Holloway, believes England should now build towards the 2019 World Cup.
“It’s the best time for England to be testing out new players. There are four years until the next World Cup and two years until the Champions Trophy,” he said.
“If they are ever going to do it then now is the time. There are a lot of players who have shown potential.
“Jason is a guy who I’ve played a lot with and I’ve seen score a lot of runs in one day cricket so I hope he goes out and does that.”