Adam Lyth still has a burning desire to represent England again, but the Yorkshire opener insists he must forget about his ambition in order to have a chance of realising it.
Lyth heads into the new summer on the back of a strange old campaign last year.
An England Test recall for the first since 2015 was within touching distance after posting scores of 52, 115 not out, 97, 116, 42 and 66 in the opening three LV= Insurance County Championship games.
Then, as he puts it, “my form dropped off the edge of a cliff”, despite him still finishing as Yorkshire’s leading Championship run-scorer with 819.
He did not pass 50 again until the final innings of the season against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in September, when he hit a superb second-innings 153 in a defeat.
The left-hander has revealed how a call from England coach Chris Silverwood inadvertently derailed his campaign, through no fault of the former Yorkshire seamer.
And that if he is to add to the seven Test caps won in the summer of 2015, he can’t afford to make the same mistake again.
“I got the phone call from Silvers to say that he wanted me as a reserve for the New Zealand series at the start of the summer,” said the 34-year-old opener.
“Obviously Rooty had seen me play, and they’d been speaking. Then, I ended up looking too far ahead, which proved my downfall.
“I had a fantastic start and got myself back into the shop window of potentially playing for England again. Unfortunately for me and the team, my form dropped then off the edge of a cliff.
“I can only really put that down to the England thing.
“I wanted to score runs and was trying too hard rather than just carrying on what I’d be doing – seeing the ball, hitting the ball.
“I was thinking, ‘Right, I’m close to playing for England again, I want this so much’. But I wasn’t thinking like that in the first four games of the season before I got the phone call.
“I was gutted with the way those next four, five or six games went because I was playing well. Then I couldn’t score a run.
“Thankfully I finished off well at Trent Bridge. It was last game of the season, nothing to lose, I could just go out and play.
“And I think it was one of the best knocks I’ve ever played for the club.
“On such a sporting wicket, to get bowled out for not many and then get chucked back in, I was so pleased with the way I played.”
Lyth continues to harbour hopes of further international honours: “I’ve got unfinished business,” he says. “But it’s no use doing it for four or five games. I have to keep my form up for longer.
“Had I done it for another four or five games last year, who knows what might have happened.
“All I can do is spend as much time as I can in the middle, try and put together as many match-winning performances for Yorkshire and forget about the England stuff.
“If it happens, it happens. It would be fantastic.”
Lyth is in confident mood ahead of the forthcoming summer.
He has just returned from the county’s 10-day pre-season tour to Dubai.
“I’m hitting the ball extremely well at the minute and am really pleased with the way it’s going,” he said.
Lyth is set to be joined in Yorkshire’s batting line-up by another left-hander for the start of the summer in Dawid Malan.
Malan has not got an IPL contract, as he did last year, and will no doubt be hoping to build his own case for an England Test recall after missing the ongoing series in the West Indies.
“We’re going to have Mala for a long period of time at the start of the season,” added Lyth.
“It’s almost like a new signing for us because we’ve not seen that much of him so far having been playing for England.
“We were right in the mix to the bitter end of every competition last year, and we’re really looking forward to the start of the season.”
After a pair of two-day games against Gloucestershire in Dubai, Yorkshire’s opening pre-season game on English soil comes in the form of a two-day intra squad game at Bradford Park Avenue on Thursday and Friday.
They then play a three-day fixture against Durham at the Riverside, starting on Monday.