England news May 11, 2011

Morgan and Bopara face Test shootout

ESPNcricinfo staff
29

With the first Test against Sri Lanka just over two weeks away, the announcement of the England Lions squad for the tourists' final warm-up match starting on May 19 has presented the possibility of a batting shootout to fill the middle-order vacancy created by Paul Collingwood's Test retirement.

Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan are the main contenders and will play alongside each other at Derby, but the Lions top order will be crammed with county talent. James Hildreth has been named captain while there is also a place for James Taylor and Samit Patel, the Nottinghamshire allrounder, has been handed another chance after being left out of the World Cup squad due to his lack of fitness.

Bopara is nudging ahead in the race to fill the No. 6 spot after overcoming a tricky start to the season to find some useful form and has also collected handy wickets with his medium pace. Morgan had been the stand-by batsman during the Ashes but his stock appears to have slipped. He has spent the last six weeks at the IPL and the Lions match will be his one first-class outing before the Test series.

Hildreth and Taylor were both consistent performers during the Lions tour of West Indies but Patel's selection is an indication he must have taken on board the seriousness of Andy Flower's remarks about meeting fitness targets. The England team director didn't hide his frustration at Patel's lack of progress, but the message may finally have hit home and his early-season form has been promising.

In the bowling department, Graham Onions' returns to an England squad after a 15-month absence through injury. Onions has enjoyed a bright start to the county season with Durham following his rehabilitation with 12 wickets in his first two games of the season.

Seamers Ajmal Shahzad and Steven Finn will have the chance to present their cases for higher honours this summer, while Jade Bernbach will look to take advantage of Chris Woakes' enforced absence. Hampshire left-arm spinner Danny Briggs will also be able to showcase his youthful talents as the only specialist slow bowler in the side.

"It has been very pleasing to see many of the players selected for the England Lions squad last winter make good starts to the domestic season and they have been rewarded with an opportunity to play a strong Sri Lankan side and push for further international honours," said Geoff Miller, the national selector.

"England Lions games are crucial stages in a player's development and give selectors a good indication of whether players are ready to make the transition into the full England side. Furthermore it's an excellent chance for fans to enjoy watching a talented young England squad take on a very good Sri Lankan Test side."

England Lions James Hildreth (capt), Jimmy Adams, Jonny Bairstow, Danny Briggs, Ravi Bopara, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Eoin Morgan, Graham Onions, Samit Patel, Ajmal Shahzad, James Taylor

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on May 14, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    sl is not complete team they can win only on flat tracks or spinners paradise..if eng make pitches suited for genuine swing bowling then sl batmans will fall like cards except sangakkara and to some extent samaraweera no one in sri lanka plays or handle swinging ball well..even not mahela ....if pitches going to be flat then this might be close contest other wise eng gona win it 4 sure..

  • jackchatfield on May 14, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    I still don't think these two players are the answer. I still believe Bopara isn't quite good enough when the pressure is on, and I don't know why people keep saying his bowling is an added bonus.. it's completely ineffective at Test level! Morgan has had one good innings and nothing else in 6 tests, and I firmly believe he should be a ODI player only. His first class record isn't anything special, and Chris Woakes (who is considered a bowler) has the same number of FC 100s. I'd love to see Taylor get a go, because he is young and very steady (reminds me of chanderpaul) and has also been in the runs this year, with an overall FC average of 50. Shame that Woakes is injured because it's only a matter of time because he is playing in tests regularly

  • yorkslanka on May 14, 2011, 10:08 GMT

    we need to be realistic here and remember that this sri lanka team is without malinga, matthews and murali, which would affect any team in teh world..we also have some young players like chandimal and thirimanne comnig into the team..England on their home soil are formidable and in terms of seaming wickets and bouncy wickets, this is no easy task for us. I think if we can draw the test series, that is a good result.. I am not trying to sound under confident, its just that some of the fans back home dont understand how difficult it is to bat on English wickets in the early start of the season and they need to remember that...good luck sri lanka...

  • MeSL on May 14, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    Hmm, Going to be a great series whichever happens. Lions vs. Lions has always been an interesting story. Come on English lions and Lankan lions, let's put up an exciting series with sheer talent and discipline. :D Go Lions! I hope Sri Lanka could win the series, and wishing upon that, but I don't mind whoever wins because it's England as long as both teams play good cricket. Hoping to see Tony Greig, Nasser Hussain and Alan Wilkins commenting. :D

  • on May 14, 2011, 5:27 GMT

    SL have lot more young batsman & spinners than England @ our domestic level batters-Specially Chandimal,Lahiru Thirimanne & Bhanuka Chandimal is talented enough to be the next Sachin / Lara or even a better player just wait & see Our spinners are a different class Not only Menis,Randiv,Herath even Sachithra & Malinga Bandara are better than any English spinner.They all canturn alot & bowl doosras,topsin & etc which Enlish spinners cant even dream of bowling(Including OVERRATED Swann ) As fast bowlers we have Nuwan Pradeep(can bowl over well 150kmph) & Suranga Lakmal

  • on May 14, 2011, 4:13 GMT

    Would love to have seen James Harris have a run in this match. Like Woakes, a very consistent wicket taker at an an economic rate and improving as a batsman. Seems only a matter of time before he puts on a an England jersey.

  • LALITHKURUWITA on May 12, 2011, 20:38 GMT

    If Poms need to win they need to put a very strong bowling side to get 20 wickets because SL's only hope is batting. SL doen't have a bowling side to take 20 wickets but SL can make it draw with their strong batting line up. Any 6 Pom batters can score more than 600 runs against SL bowlers. It is coming to ENG Bowling VS SL batting.ENG will win if their bowlers do well or match will be drawn if SL batters do well.

  • WilliamFranklin on May 12, 2011, 12:28 GMT

    Wasn't Dernbach the stand out bowler in the Lions tour to the Carribean?

  • SDHM on May 12, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    We're not saying this is a better side than Sri Lanka, we're just saying it's pretty good for a second string side! I think it proves that England have good strength and talent in all areas - not necessarily the best young players in the world, but definitely the best spread across all aspects of the game. I don't know much about domestic subcontinental cricket, but I doubt Australia, SA and New Zealand have such a good mix of young batsmen, seamers, spinners and keepers. It's an exciting time to be an England fan.

  • on May 12, 2011, 9:49 GMT

    who will feature in englands bowling attack now that they have all resources available?? also i don't want to see bopara in england test side i dont think u can rely on him at test level

  • on May 14, 2011, 12:10 GMT

    sl is not complete team they can win only on flat tracks or spinners paradise..if eng make pitches suited for genuine swing bowling then sl batmans will fall like cards except sangakkara and to some extent samaraweera no one in sri lanka plays or handle swinging ball well..even not mahela ....if pitches going to be flat then this might be close contest other wise eng gona win it 4 sure..

  • jackchatfield on May 14, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    I still don't think these two players are the answer. I still believe Bopara isn't quite good enough when the pressure is on, and I don't know why people keep saying his bowling is an added bonus.. it's completely ineffective at Test level! Morgan has had one good innings and nothing else in 6 tests, and I firmly believe he should be a ODI player only. His first class record isn't anything special, and Chris Woakes (who is considered a bowler) has the same number of FC 100s. I'd love to see Taylor get a go, because he is young and very steady (reminds me of chanderpaul) and has also been in the runs this year, with an overall FC average of 50. Shame that Woakes is injured because it's only a matter of time because he is playing in tests regularly

  • yorkslanka on May 14, 2011, 10:08 GMT

    we need to be realistic here and remember that this sri lanka team is without malinga, matthews and murali, which would affect any team in teh world..we also have some young players like chandimal and thirimanne comnig into the team..England on their home soil are formidable and in terms of seaming wickets and bouncy wickets, this is no easy task for us. I think if we can draw the test series, that is a good result.. I am not trying to sound under confident, its just that some of the fans back home dont understand how difficult it is to bat on English wickets in the early start of the season and they need to remember that...good luck sri lanka...

  • MeSL on May 14, 2011, 5:57 GMT

    Hmm, Going to be a great series whichever happens. Lions vs. Lions has always been an interesting story. Come on English lions and Lankan lions, let's put up an exciting series with sheer talent and discipline. :D Go Lions! I hope Sri Lanka could win the series, and wishing upon that, but I don't mind whoever wins because it's England as long as both teams play good cricket. Hoping to see Tony Greig, Nasser Hussain and Alan Wilkins commenting. :D

  • on May 14, 2011, 5:27 GMT

    SL have lot more young batsman & spinners than England @ our domestic level batters-Specially Chandimal,Lahiru Thirimanne & Bhanuka Chandimal is talented enough to be the next Sachin / Lara or even a better player just wait & see Our spinners are a different class Not only Menis,Randiv,Herath even Sachithra & Malinga Bandara are better than any English spinner.They all canturn alot & bowl doosras,topsin & etc which Enlish spinners cant even dream of bowling(Including OVERRATED Swann ) As fast bowlers we have Nuwan Pradeep(can bowl over well 150kmph) & Suranga Lakmal

  • on May 14, 2011, 4:13 GMT

    Would love to have seen James Harris have a run in this match. Like Woakes, a very consistent wicket taker at an an economic rate and improving as a batsman. Seems only a matter of time before he puts on a an England jersey.

  • LALITHKURUWITA on May 12, 2011, 20:38 GMT

    If Poms need to win they need to put a very strong bowling side to get 20 wickets because SL's only hope is batting. SL doen't have a bowling side to take 20 wickets but SL can make it draw with their strong batting line up. Any 6 Pom batters can score more than 600 runs against SL bowlers. It is coming to ENG Bowling VS SL batting.ENG will win if their bowlers do well or match will be drawn if SL batters do well.

  • WilliamFranklin on May 12, 2011, 12:28 GMT

    Wasn't Dernbach the stand out bowler in the Lions tour to the Carribean?

  • SDHM on May 12, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    We're not saying this is a better side than Sri Lanka, we're just saying it's pretty good for a second string side! I think it proves that England have good strength and talent in all areas - not necessarily the best young players in the world, but definitely the best spread across all aspects of the game. I don't know much about domestic subcontinental cricket, but I doubt Australia, SA and New Zealand have such a good mix of young batsmen, seamers, spinners and keepers. It's an exciting time to be an England fan.

  • on May 12, 2011, 9:49 GMT

    who will feature in englands bowling attack now that they have all resources available?? also i don't want to see bopara in england test side i dont think u can rely on him at test level

  • on May 12, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Id like to see james taylor given a run at 5 or 6 but i can't look past eoin morgans talent with the bat and his ODI record is very solid and he is much more experienced then taylor. Morgan already has a test century to his name, bopara has 3, they have similar avg in tests, but morgans ODI record stands out. I think morgan is such a devastating player he can change a match so quickly so he is a guy you want in your side down the order, he and matt prior can really turn it on. Also then i would choose samit patel, i would choose him as 1st pick for ODI side(taking wright/yardy's role of allrounder), and slot him in at 6 in tests if morgan and /or james taylor fails. you could even replace a bowler for samit and bat him at 7 and prior at 8 because samit is that good of a bowler if its a slow track you will want 2 good spinners (him and swann).

  • anshu.s on May 12, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    Even though we are talking about longer format here but for shorter format pls keep James Vince and Jose Butler in mind.

  • on May 12, 2011, 2:17 GMT

    Over Expectation !! Srilanka is a Better team !!!

  • Pingissimus on May 11, 2011, 20:30 GMT

    @Trickstar

    Agreed on Meaker. He is a real prospect. I can't remember seeing an English bowler beating so many batsmen for raw pace and hitting the stumps so often. Dernbach by comparison is a bit of a journeyman. This comes a little soon for Meaker though - lots of his wickets have been tailenders and I see the next Lions winter tour as more likely for him.

  • allblue on May 11, 2011, 20:16 GMT

    Even allowing for a first team squad and injuries, we could put out a reasonable England B XII as well: Lyth, Chopra, Malan, Gale, Davies, Stokes, Rashid, Harris, Meaker, Roland-Jones, Buck, Panesar. English cricket is definitely on the upswing.

  • RAVI_BOPARA on May 11, 2011, 20:04 GMT

    GREAT SQUAD - SHAME KEISWETTER GOT INJURED NOW!!!!

  • RAVI_BOPARA on May 11, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    @ phil765 - JONNY BAIRSTOW IS THE KEEPER!!!

  • on May 11, 2011, 19:54 GMT

    Panesar is by far the 2nd best spinner in the country? Gary Keedy (apart from one bad season) has been the best spinner in the domestic game for a while. While he's still very young, Lancashire's Simon Kerrigan is one to watch for the future too...

  • phil765 on May 11, 2011, 19:43 GMT

    re: my early posting, didn't realise Bairstow was a keeper, my mistake!

  • Trickstar on May 11, 2011, 19:27 GMT

    As a Yorkshire fan, it is my understanding that Rashid, hasn't been included because of the other Yorkshire players, that are already going to be missing, for the Roses clash against Lancashire, that is happening, at the same time as the Lions game. With Bairstow and Shahzad included in the side, it would be a big ask, for Rashid to be a part of the Lions side and for Yorkshire to put out a competitive side with 3 main players, against their biggest rival and most important game of the year so far. Very strong Lions line up and will be a big test for the tourists,I'd personally would of gone with either Meaker or Harris, instead of Dernbach, who I don't think, has been very impressive so far. Meaker's been excellent so far this season from what I've seen, with 19 wickets in 3 games and has developed a lot since last year, he's has found some accuracy to his pace.

  • Pingissimus on May 11, 2011, 19:04 GMT

    While Rashid is promising, he still has a way to go before the test team is a prospect. Panesar is by a long distance the second best spinner in the country and Tredwell is also ahead of him in the queue. I'd also suggest Swann is the bowler he is today because he served such a long county apprenticeship. That much said I would much prefer Rashid to be given experience at this level ahead of Patel - a one-day prospect but no more.

    The fast bowling looks in excellent shape. Anderson, Tremlett, Bresnan, Broad, Finn, Onions, Shahzad is surely the best range of talent we've had in decades.

  • phil765 on May 11, 2011, 18:43 GMT

    Have I missed something or are they missing something? Keeper perhaps?

  • surge_joe on May 11, 2011, 18:12 GMT

    This lions squad is very good. A little thin on spin , but with a good looking pace attack. ECB should nurture them well and they can really unearth some high performing test players for the future.

  • SDHM on May 11, 2011, 18:10 GMT

    @ Alphamonkey - Taylor will open with Adams, I'm pretty sure. If Morgan and Bopara (and to a lesser extent, Patel and Hildreth) are competing for a middle order place, it'll make sense to play them there.

  • on May 11, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    A strong middle-order with Taylor, Hildreth, Morgan and Bopara all pushing for the England squad. My choice is Taylor for the senior squad as he's scored lots of runs over the past 2.5 years and had a very successful Lions tour this Winter, but rumours are they will go with Bopara because he can bowl a bit.

  • on May 11, 2011, 17:56 GMT

    Great to see Samit Patel in the England Lions side playing Sri Lanka next week which means that the ECB and Andy Flower are happy with Samit's fitness condition right now. I have been seeing some County Championship games recently and Samit has made a telling contribution in almost all of those games that i've seen. As far as the No.6 test spot for England is concerned i would go with Ravi Bopara because he has been in good form of late and also provides a seam bowling option if required. If England want a second spinner in their test side to partner Graeme Swann i would go with Samit Patel because he has brilliant for Nottinghamshire with both bat and ball this season.

  • alphamonkey on May 11, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    I only see one opener in this squad - maybe Varun Chopra ought to have got a call given his form. Surely it's unfair to ask Bopara to open if he's trying to earn a test place.

    Also, disappointing for Rashid to miss out simply because Patel has finally laid off the pies. Rashid has been fit and playing well for a long time, why not reward him rather than a player who has managed to get himself fit for five minutes?

    Great to see Onions back. This squad just shows how much strength in depth England have right now.

  • SDHM on May 11, 2011, 15:19 GMT

    A strong squad indeed, shows England have pretty good strength in depth and good young talent coming through. On the Patel issue, I was under the impression that he wasn't going to get anywhere near the set up under Flower until he'd proved he'd gotten fitter, so I'm guessing he has. I would have liked to see Adil Rashid in to see how he'd go against good players of spin and I'm surprised he isn't to be honest. Maybe this means they have plans for him involving the limited overs games later in the summer though, so they don't want to expose him to the Sri Lankans beforehand?

  • Vivek.Bhandari on May 11, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    Is Captain Morgan expected to be back from IPL for this Lions match? If yes, then it is a good news...

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  • Vivek.Bhandari on May 11, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    Is Captain Morgan expected to be back from IPL for this Lions match? If yes, then it is a good news...

  • SDHM on May 11, 2011, 15:19 GMT

    A strong squad indeed, shows England have pretty good strength in depth and good young talent coming through. On the Patel issue, I was under the impression that he wasn't going to get anywhere near the set up under Flower until he'd proved he'd gotten fitter, so I'm guessing he has. I would have liked to see Adil Rashid in to see how he'd go against good players of spin and I'm surprised he isn't to be honest. Maybe this means they have plans for him involving the limited overs games later in the summer though, so they don't want to expose him to the Sri Lankans beforehand?

  • alphamonkey on May 11, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    I only see one opener in this squad - maybe Varun Chopra ought to have got a call given his form. Surely it's unfair to ask Bopara to open if he's trying to earn a test place.

    Also, disappointing for Rashid to miss out simply because Patel has finally laid off the pies. Rashid has been fit and playing well for a long time, why not reward him rather than a player who has managed to get himself fit for five minutes?

    Great to see Onions back. This squad just shows how much strength in depth England have right now.

  • on May 11, 2011, 17:56 GMT

    Great to see Samit Patel in the England Lions side playing Sri Lanka next week which means that the ECB and Andy Flower are happy with Samit's fitness condition right now. I have been seeing some County Championship games recently and Samit has made a telling contribution in almost all of those games that i've seen. As far as the No.6 test spot for England is concerned i would go with Ravi Bopara because he has been in good form of late and also provides a seam bowling option if required. If England want a second spinner in their test side to partner Graeme Swann i would go with Samit Patel because he has brilliant for Nottinghamshire with both bat and ball this season.

  • on May 11, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    A strong middle-order with Taylor, Hildreth, Morgan and Bopara all pushing for the England squad. My choice is Taylor for the senior squad as he's scored lots of runs over the past 2.5 years and had a very successful Lions tour this Winter, but rumours are they will go with Bopara because he can bowl a bit.

  • SDHM on May 11, 2011, 18:10 GMT

    @ Alphamonkey - Taylor will open with Adams, I'm pretty sure. If Morgan and Bopara (and to a lesser extent, Patel and Hildreth) are competing for a middle order place, it'll make sense to play them there.

  • surge_joe on May 11, 2011, 18:12 GMT

    This lions squad is very good. A little thin on spin , but with a good looking pace attack. ECB should nurture them well and they can really unearth some high performing test players for the future.

  • phil765 on May 11, 2011, 18:43 GMT

    Have I missed something or are they missing something? Keeper perhaps?

  • Pingissimus on May 11, 2011, 19:04 GMT

    While Rashid is promising, he still has a way to go before the test team is a prospect. Panesar is by a long distance the second best spinner in the country and Tredwell is also ahead of him in the queue. I'd also suggest Swann is the bowler he is today because he served such a long county apprenticeship. That much said I would much prefer Rashid to be given experience at this level ahead of Patel - a one-day prospect but no more.

    The fast bowling looks in excellent shape. Anderson, Tremlett, Bresnan, Broad, Finn, Onions, Shahzad is surely the best range of talent we've had in decades.

  • Trickstar on May 11, 2011, 19:27 GMT

    As a Yorkshire fan, it is my understanding that Rashid, hasn't been included because of the other Yorkshire players, that are already going to be missing, for the Roses clash against Lancashire, that is happening, at the same time as the Lions game. With Bairstow and Shahzad included in the side, it would be a big ask, for Rashid to be a part of the Lions side and for Yorkshire to put out a competitive side with 3 main players, against their biggest rival and most important game of the year so far. Very strong Lions line up and will be a big test for the tourists,I'd personally would of gone with either Meaker or Harris, instead of Dernbach, who I don't think, has been very impressive so far. Meaker's been excellent so far this season from what I've seen, with 19 wickets in 3 games and has developed a lot since last year, he's has found some accuracy to his pace.