Academy product welcomes the challenge of intense competition for places
This winter was the first in six years that Banks has not been abroad – and the 19-year-old believes the sustained time that allowed him working on his game with the coaches at Edgbaston has been “really beneficial.”
Now the challenge for the Staffordshire-born batsman is to nail down a first-team place across the formats by beating off competition which is plentiful even without the retired Jonathan Trott and, until June, the injured Ian Bell.
I think there’s competition all the way through to the middle order and that’s the way you want it because it keeps people on their toes and trying to keep improving.Liam Banks
“I am really eager and just can’t wait to get into the season,” Banks said. “I would like to think I can be in and around the first team a lot more than I have been in the past couple of years.
“I had a few decent knocks in pre-season so I’d like to think I’m ready. It would be nice to get an opportunity quite early on, but if that doesn’t come then I’ll just keep trying to fight for a place in the first team and hopefully it will come.
“It has been a bit different for me this winter, not being away for the first time since I was 13. I’ve been here in the cold but it’s been nice to spend some time with the family, and cricket-wise I think it’s been really beneficial because I have got so much work in on my game. A lot of the lads have benefited similarly because not as many went away this winter.”
Newcastle-under-Lyme-born Banks is one of several Staffordshire-born players in the current Bears squad, preserving the close historical link between the counties which was cemented earlier this year when they extended their formal partnership to cover both player pathway and commercial opportunities.
Last winter saw Banks on duty for England in the Under 19s World Cup in New Zealand, in which he underlined his ability with a century against Canada. He has had a taste of first-team cricket with the Bears, given his championship debut in 2017 aged just 18, but was denied further opportunities last season as top four Will Rhodes, Dom Sibley, Bell and Trott powered the Bears to championship promotion.
“The squad is in a good place with a lot of competition for places but that’s healthy,” he said. “I’m certainly not just looking at opening the batting, I think there’s competition all the way through to the middle order and that’s the way you want it because it keeps people on their toes and trying to keep improving.
“It’s good that any situation we are in, we know we have that depth and that applies across the three formats. We had a lot of success in red-ball cricket last year and now trying to back that up again is crucial.”