Alex Hales has heaped praise on each of his three Nottinghamshire and England teammates ahead of jetting off to South Africa.
The 26-year-old will depart for his second Test tour on Thursday with Stuart Broad, James Taylor and Samit Patel joining him on the plane to face the world’s number one ranked team.
“It’s a definite help having the four of us out there,” said Hales. “There are a lot of guys in the same age bracket who have come up at the same time so it’s a tight bunch in general.
“Having Samit, James and Stuart as familiar faces is good. It’s a great environment to be in.
“I’ve been really close friends with Stuart since we first came to Notts in the same year. Everything about him is world class. To finally be in the Test environment with him is fantastic for me.
“James is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. Every time he puts an England shirt on he steps up. All credit to him, he was outstanding in the UAE in the Test he played and the one dayers. You’ve got to give him full credit.
“Samit is brilliant to have around. He’s one of the great characters in the changing rooms.
“He’s one of the most self confident guys I’ve met when it comes to cricket. If he gets the chance in South Africa then I’ve got no doubt he’ll perform.”
Having missed out to Moeen Ali on the opening berth throughout the recent series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, hints have been dropped, by selectors and coaches alike, that Hales can expect to start the South Africa series at the top of the order.
It’s a position in which he has excelled in of late in the 50-over cricket arena, including a maiden ODI century against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.
With a concerted run at the top of the limited-overs order, combined with Test squad selection for the second successive tour, Hales admits he has never enjoyed his cricket more.
“It’s been a good start to the winter. I’m happy to get my first ODI hundred," he said.
“It’s taken longer than I would have hoped but it’s good to get the monkey off the back and hopefully it’s the first of a few for me.
“I tried not to think about it (getting a century). Your job in the top three or four is to score big runs.
“For me, after the Australia series didn’t go so well, it was pleasing to bounce back against Pakistan.
“I’ve played internationally in two formats now.
“I’ve got to treat it (Tests) as a game of cricket and try to focus on what I’ve done well in county cricket.
“This is the most exciting time in my career. I’ve always wanted to play all three formats for England. To be going to a place like South Africa is really exciting and then you have a T20 World Cup around the corner.”
The 2015 season has seen dramatic last-gasp four day victories, thrilling limited-overs contests and an historic Investec Ashes Test, all in the unique surroundings of Trent Bridge.
Next season, we’d wager, will be no less enthralling and frankly we’d hate for you to miss out.