London: Kent batsman Robert Key admitted on Tuesday that England veteran Alec Stewart was responsible for his transformation from promising youngster to international cricketer.
Key was last week named in England's 13-man squad for the second match of its four- Test series against India at Trent Bridge on Thursday. The Kent batsman is set to open the batting alongside Michael Vaughan with Marcus Trescothick still sidelined because of a fractured thumb. And the 23-year-old batsman said he was thankful that Stewart gave him some inspirational advice at an award dinner two years ago.
Key was struggling with a career average of only 29.26 runs when Stewart gave him a lecture on what was required of an international batsman at the top level at a Professional Cricketers' Association dinner. "I'd had a bad year, and Kent were toying with the idea of sending me to Perth," Key said.
"I was pretty much sick of cricket and I wanted a break but he (Stewart) told me to get out to (the National Academy) in Perth and play on some of the best batting wickets in the world and work hard, and if I did that there'd be a good chance for me going on and playing for England." Whilst at Perth, Key worked with batting coach Noddy Holder on his once suspect fitness. Key lost weight while at Perth, and the Kent batsman now averages 44 in 12 first-class matches this season.