ESSEX star Lawrence admits he was frustrated not to get a chance to help England’s faltering batting in the Ashes but is ready to make up for lost time in the West Indies.

Despite repeated failures to post competitive totals in the 4-0 thrashing Down Under, Lawrence was restricted to net duty and ferrying drinks for the entire trip.

But while others played their way out of contention in Australia, his untarnished winter placed him in pole position for this month’s three-match series in the Caribbean.

His selection ahead of Ollie Pope for the warm-up match against a CWI President’s XI suggested he will get the nod for next week’s opener and his lively knock of 83 on a sleepy pitch effectively sealed the deal.

The Essex batter hit 46 on the first evening in Antigua and added another 37 in good time on the second morning and looked set for a century until he nicked the best ball of the day from Colin Archibald.

He was the fourth Englishman to pass 50 in the match and a fifth, Jonny Bairstow, went all the way with an undefeated 106 in a declaration total of 466 for six.

The hosts responded with 48 for two before stumps and, for Lawrence, it has already been a welcome return to the middle.

“That was my first competitive bat since the end of the English summer so it was just nice to spend a couple of hours at the crease,” he said.

“It was a nice feeling to score some runs. I’d obviously love to play in the first Test, that’s my number one priority. It was a bit of a frustrating time for me in Australia not playing but that’s life.

“It’s obviously not been easy, it was tricky not being able to try and help the boys when they were having a pretty tough time. But it happens, I can’t just expect to play. I’m trying to just prepare myself for when the opportunity does come.”

With runs on the board and no more games for Pope to push his cause, Lawrence is a certainty to take the field at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. Even better, he can expect to do so in his favoured slot at four for the first time.

Over his previous eight appearances for England, in which he averages a modest 27.23, he has been selected twice as a number five, twice as a number three, once down at seven and three more times at number six.

“I’ve batted a few different places for England so far, but for Essex the last three or four years I’ve batted number four and felt pretty comfortable there. It’s a place I enjoy batting,” he said.

“I haven’t actually had the conversation about what the team is going to be yet but it if I do get the chance to play and bat number four I’m very excited for that.

“I feel like at times I haven’t showed everyone what I can actually do. I think when I actually get in I generally do alright, it’s just starting sometimes for me. But I’m feeling very positive and I’m really just trying to enjoy every day I’m playing for England and not put too much pressure on myself.

“It hasn’t gone how I wanted it to go so far in my career but hopefully it can change. If I do get a chance, grab it with both hands and really establish myself in the middle order for England.”