Andrew Gale to lead Lions on UAE tour
Andrew Gale, Yorkshire's new captain, will lead the England Lions on their tour of UAE next month. The selectors have announced a 15-man squad for the limited-overs trip which includes five players who have been part of the main tour of South Africa.
Three players - Michael Lumb from Hampshire, Somerset's Peter Trego and the Gloucestershire quick Steve Kirby - have been included after impressing in the 2009 domestic seasons even though they have not been part of any England squad this winter. Ian Bell, who has played a key role in the Test series against South Africa, is given a chance to push for a one-day recall.
Geoff Miller, the national selector, said Gale had impressed everyone during his time with the England Performance Programme in Pretoria. "Obviously, Yorkshire have seen something in him," he said. "He's shown us, in the performance squad, what he's capable of doing - at Loughborough and out here in South Africa.
"He's ticked an awful lot of boxes, and we've given him the opportunity. Good luck to him. It's the real start of his international career. We'll see how he goes."
Gale, who was named as Anthony McGrath's successor at Yorkshire shortly before Christmas, is thrilled by his opportunity. "I am proud to become the England Lions captain and I am excited about the opportunities that the tour will hold for us as a team and individuals.
"The series against Pakistan A will give us an opportunity to test our skills against other international cricketers and will be a great way to taste the international arena."
The other eye-catching name is that of Craig Kieswetter, the South African-born Somerset wicketkeeper, who qualifies for England next month. He was added to the EPP squad for the camp in Pretoria and was quick to commit his future to England after Graeme Smith said he'd be keen to have him return to South Africa.
James Tredwell, the Kent offspinner who was added to the Test party as cover for Graeme Swann, will be part of the Lions squad for the first four matches before travelling to Bangladesh with the full squad, which could suggest that Adil Rashid's position is now less secure. The rest of the full squad for the Bangladesh tour will be named after the South Africa series is finished.
The most notable omission from the Lions is Ravi Bopara who continues to be overlooked after he was dropped for the final Ashes Test following an horrendous run of form. Bopara is currently playing for Auckland in New Zealand, but still has a lot of ground to make up.
"We have an excellent balance of younger players who are just beginning to stake their claim for international honours and players with plenty of experience at full international or county level in this England Lions squad," David Parsons, the ECB performance director, said. "I have no doubt that every member will gain a huge amount from the three week tour.
"We ran a very successful Performance Programme during November and December and I am delighted that six players from this year's EPP have been selected for this tour. This represents an opportunity for them to test themselves against quality opposition and to press their case for a place in the England side."
The Lions will play matches against UAE, Pakistan A and the full England side during the three-week tour.
England Lions: Andrew Gale (capt), Ian Bell, Michael Carberry, Michael Lumb, James Taylor, Craig Kieswetter, Steven Davies, Peter Trego, James Tredwell, Adil Rashid, Sajid Mahmood, Chris Woakes, Steven Finn, Steve Kirby, David Wainwright