Dan Lawrence is set to make his Test debut in Galle today and Essex team-mate Nick Browne has insisted he was always destined to play international cricket.

The 23-year-old, who played for Chingford, is on course to conclude a roller-coaster 12 months on a high after being selected by England for the first game of a two-match series against Sri Lanka this month.

It will be a proud moment for everyone at Essex and in particular Browne, who has known the batsman since their Trinity Catholic High School days.

While there have been many standout moments for Lawrence, not least the 161 he scored in his second first-class match, it was days after his 16th birthday when he really caught the eye of his then second-team captain.

“I remember playing a game at Coggeshall (against Middlesex 2nd XI) and he must have been 16,” Browne told the PA news agency.

“I was fighting for a contract and 50 not out and Dan ran me out! I had picked him up in the morning and had to take him home afterwards.

“I was fuming, but he ended up getting a century and I thought, ‘OK this kid is actually quite good’ so I knew I had to calm down before the journey home.

“Even then we knew. He was obviously different the way he played with his technique being very unique, but we knew there was something. Maybe his confidence really because even coming into the first team at Essex, he knew he was good enough.”

Lawrence did not wait around following that 121 and against a star-studded Surrey team at the Oval in April 2015, he made the world take note.

Browne struck 143, but it was his 17-year-old partner who grabbed the headlines with 161 runs on just his second County Championship appearance.

“That innings was remarkable because we knew he could play, but not like that,” the Essex opener admitted.

“He ended up running down the wicket and whacking Gareth Batty and Zafar Ansari for sixes.”