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Meaker's mean streak

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STUART MEAKER is aiming to break into the England set-up this year – and he could take a leaf from the book of his boyhood hero to help him get there.

The Surrey paceman is fully focused on having a good season in 2013 to try and force his way in to the selectors' thoughts, with the Ashes series and the ICC Champions Trophy on home soil to look forward to this summer.

And having taken his 150th first class wicket in his first five-wicket haul of the summer last week, the 24-year-old has set his sights on adding to his two One Day International appearances and two T20 internationals.

He said: "Looking at the amount of cricket this summer, you have two Ashes series, New Zealand and the ICC Champions Trophy, it might be a question of who manages to stay fit.

"Fingers crossed I manage to stick around and take wickets.

"If I can do that then who knows – it is always the same – runs talk for batsmen and wickets talk for bowlers."

But Meaker knows he faces tough competition for a starting berth, both for his county and within the England side.

He said: "If I am in form then I have a chance, but you look at some of the other guys like Toby Roland-Jones, who has started the season well.

"I just have to make sure I am one step ahead of them. I need to keep doing what I have done over the last couple of seasons and hopefully I will get that chance of making my Test debut."

Last year was a difficult one for Surrey, with the death of promising young batsman Tom Maynard hitting the squad hard.

Injuries and England call-ups also took their toll, robbing Jade Dernbach and Chris Tremlett from the bowling attack.

That put extra responsibility on the shoulders of the young South African-born paceman, who admits he had to forego his own personal ambitions for the good of the team to help secure division one safety.

But while he said he did not do it all by himself and praised the influence of stand-in captain Gareth Batty, he admits it was a huge relief to survive last year, adding that there was a real sense of pride in the dressing room.

He said: "It was a bit of a daunting feeling to find myself leading the attack at such a young age, but it was great to know that the lads had that faith in me to be able to help carry them through."

This year is a different story though, with the arrivals of Graeme Smith, Vikram Solanki and Gary Keedy, not to mention the summer arrival of former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, making Surrey many people's tips for silverware.

And Meaker says he is hoping to try and emulate his hero, South African fast bowler Allan Donald, to help him fulfil his dreams for both Surrey and England.

"There is that streak in me somewhere," he said referring to Donald's reputation of a fearsome fast bowler.

"He [Allan Donald] was called 'White Lightning' for a reason – he had that nasty streak in him that made him want to rumble all the batsmen, whereas now it is often about line and length.

"What Donald did to [Michael] Atherton, it was almost like he hated the guy. By reputation, if you rumble a few batsmen and get a few shots on the shoulders or up near the head, word gets around quite quickly and that might mean you get a few more."

Meaker's mean streak


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