Zak Crawley believes the competition in England's batting order can help Joe Root's men emulate the successful Australia side of the early 2000s.
Kent batsman Crawley appears to be in a four-way fight for a top three place with Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley and county colleague Joe Denly ahead of next month's three-Test series at home to the West Indies.
Burns' ankle injury paved the way for Crawley to open with Sibley in South Africa and he has increased his highest Test score six times in a row to the 66 he made against the Proteas at Johannesburg in January.
And the 22-year-old Crawley was in good form when England's tour of Sri Lanka was cut short before the Test series because of the coronavirus, signing off with an innings of 105.
Burns is fit again and Crawley could now find himself competing for the number three berth with Denly, although England's top order could be shaken up further if skipper Root misses the first Test at Southampton on July 8 to attend the birth of his second child.
An intra-squad match from July 1-3 could have a bearing on selection and Crawley, asked about competing for a place with Denly, told a conference call from England's training base in Southampton on Thursday: "It's slightly odd. I get on really well with Joe and I wish him every success.
"Ideally, we'd both play. He's desperate to play for England -- as am I -- and we'll still be good friends whatever happens."
'Not yet proven myself'
And Crawley was confident the competition for a spot would benefit both him and the England team as a whole.
Players of the calibre of Stuart Law could not establish themselves in the Australia side of the late 1990s and early 2000s, with Crawley saying: "All the way through my career there's been competition, right from when I was a 10-year-old, all the way up to now.
"That's always improved me as a player, to try to get better than the people you're competing against.
"Perhaps I haven't quite completely proven myself yet, but hopefully with a couple of scores I can get to that point."
He added: "I remember the Australia team of the early 2000s, some really good players didn't get in that side and I think that's why they were such a strong side, they had such good training environments where everyone is always trying to improve to get in the side.
"It feels like we have something similar at the moment. We've got strength in depth and that's what pushes you harder and makes a side."
Crawley lives in a flat at Kent's Canterbury ground so training and staying at Hampshire's 'bio-secure' headquarters is not as much a shock for him as some other England squad members.
"I don't have a young family which other people do have in the squad, which is maybe tough for them," he said.
"For me, it's just great to be back with the squad, training and playing again."