TOM Westley is confident he can reclaim his England Test place if he continues to perform well for Essex in the new season.

The batsman, who turned 29 yesterday, made his international debut last July against South Africa before playing in three matches against the West Indies.

However, he was not selected for England’s ill-fated Ashes tour of Australia.

And, having injured his finger while on England Lions duty last November, Westley is now gearing up for Essex’s title defence by focusing on his form and recovery.

“I am thinking about Essex and I want to score runs and contribute to Essex wins,” said Essex vice-captain Westley, who picked up the County Championship trophy at the Lord’s Taverners presentation on Monday.

“Scoring runs for Essex and against the touring sides is what got me into the Test side in the first place last year and if I am to get back in I need to do that.

“It was bitterly disappointing getting dropped but I have worked on a few things and I have been working on a few things with [former South African spinner] Gary Kirsten in Cape Town in recent weeks, so hopefully I’m in a good space and everything else will follow on.

“The finger is feeling stronger than it was 12 weeks ago and the work in Cape Town helped with that,” he added. “I haven’t tested it in the field yet but I feel strong and am looking forward to the season starting now.

“I feel close to 100 per cent. The batting and bowling is there but I have not played matches since I was in the field with England Lions against Queensland.

“When I was ruled out of the Lions trip to Barbados it gave me more breathing space to get ready for the County Championship season.

“I am set for a typical pre-season and it will be good to play matches from scratch when we head to Barbados.”

The County Championship Division One holders will travel to the Caribbean for the four-day MCC’s Champion County Match, which will take place from March 27-30 at the Kensington Oval.

Essex begin their title defence on April 13 in Yorkshire and Westley says the best way to approach the new season under new head coach Anthony McGrath is to do much the same as last season - a campaign they started as relegation candidates.

“When Mags [McGrath] came in he touched on not getting complacent,” said Westley, who signed a contract extension last October.

“What has happened is great but we must strive to improve. We have made some fantastic signings and, physically, the squad looks in really good shape.

“I haven’t seen [assistant] Dimi [Mascarenhas] in an Essex tracksuit yet but he will be a fantastic recruit. He has knowledge of cricket himself and from coaching around the world.

“We excelled last year and people didn’t expect us to do that,” he added. “But we are good enough so we can win it again.

“One of our best mantras is we don’t look too far ahead. We try to win all our games.

“Last year we were asked where do we want to finish and no one really wanted to attach an answer. We are process driven and we will see where we end up.”