Craig Overton is confident he will be able to keep his cool even if Australia push him to the limit in this winter’s Ashes.
Uncapped Overton is prime contender as a fourth seam option for England and may well be in line for a debut in this month’s first Test in Brisbane.
The 23-year-old seamer, whose twin Jamie plies the same trade for Somerset and remains an England prospect despite his injuries of late, has learned the hard way that he must control his temper in the middle.
Two years ago, he found himself the subject of racist allegations after the umpires reported him for an on-field remark to Sussex’s Ashar Zaidi.
Overton, banned for two matches by the England and Wales Cricket Board, denied the charge but does acknowledge that the altercation – after which Somerset coach Matthew Maynard suggested counselling with a psychologist – proved a turning point in his career.
“Massively,” he said. “It was not just that incident but the whole summer, where there were a few instances. That’s not how you behave on a cricket field, and that’s one thing I’ve learned with my psychologist – you can’t act like that, and I’ve found ways of dealing with it.
“He (Maynard) just asked if I wanted to go see her, and I was really happy to… she did a lot of work with me. I don’t want to lose the edge – it’s just finding the right balance and not going too far.”
Overton believes his transgressions will not return, saying: “It’s been quite a smooth transition. There’s times I do still push it a bit, and then the older guys in the side say, ‘Just keep it in check’. But it’s definitely less often now, which is good.
“I’ve calmed down the last couple of years, and I think what happened has made me realise you can’t go on acting like that. It’s matured me a little bit, which I’m really happy with, and I’ve moved on from that.”
He knows, though, that he can almost certainly count on Australia to test his resolve.
“It’s just part and parcel of cricket,” he said. “They will try and make the most of it… you’ve just got to respect that and not give it back, but try and take it and use it for yourself.”
Overton, whose first opportunity to impress will come this weekend against a Western Australia XI, has every right to fancy his chances of a debut at the Gabba.
“There’s three spare seamers, so there’s a good chance I’m going to be playing,” he said. “It’d be a massive achievement, and I’d be really proud if I do.”
Brother Jamie will be too.
“He’s happy for me,” said Craig, who expects his twin to be pressing the sibling rivalry again soon. “I hope he’ll be following in my footsteps. One person gets ahead, and the other one overtakes, and vice-versa. We’re very competitive, and I think that’s very normal for twin brothers. They want to get the best out of each other.”