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Morgan and Bopara face Test shootout

ESPNcricinfo staff

May 11, 2011

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A

Samit Patel played an important hand after early wickets fell, Nottinghamshire v Worcestershire, County Championship, Division One, Trent Bridge, April 27, 2011
Samit Patel has been handed an England lifeline with his inclusion in the Lions squad © Getty Images
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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

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   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..

Posted by 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

Posted by 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...

Posted by 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

Posted by   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

Posted by   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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by WilliamFranklin on (May 12, 2011, 12:28 GMT)

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

Posted by 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.

Posted by   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

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