Cook to captain Lions in triangular
While the national one-day side wages a pre-Ashes battle against Australia, Alastair Cook will captain a 12-man England Lions squad in a triangular one-day series against A sides from India and West Indies between June 28 and July 8. The side is a strong one, featuring seven England-capped players including Jonathan Trott, Ravi Bopara, Sajid Mahmood and Liam Plunkett.
The rest of the squad, apart from Darren Stevens, have featured in Lions line-ups in the past. His call-up comes after a prosperous start to the county season with Kent, for whom he is currently leading run-scorer in the county championship with 774 runs at 70.36, including four hundreds, and in the Friends Provident t20 competition, with 212 runs in seven innings at a strike-rate of 142.28. He has also scored at a rate of 111.84 in the CB40 League, and taken 17 wickets so far across the three formats.
"This is well deserved for Darren because he is a quality player," said Robert Key, Stevens' captain at Kent. "Hopefully a place in the Lions squad will be a quick stepping stone for him because I feel he deserves to be in the full England side."
"We are pleased to welcome Darren Stevens to the squad who has been rewarded for his impressive form with Kent this season," said National Selector Geoff Miller. "This triangular series presents the England Lions squad with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their abilities in the one-day format and challenge for a place in the senior side.
"Alastair Cook will have an opportunity to gain further experience as captain after successful spells as captain with both England and England Lions and he will lead a side that includes six of the squad members involved in the one-day series against Pakistan A in February."
With England facing a busy summer schedule and the county season in full swing, Miller also suggested that there was the possibility of squad members maintaining their county commitments, and of national players in need of some time in the middle coming in to the side.
"We have selected a strong squad for what will be a challenging series. There is scope for non-playing Lions squad members to return to their counties for fixtures when appropriate and we will also consider using non-playing members of the England one-day squad throughout the Lions series to give them match practice."
England Lions squad: Alastair Cook (capt), Ravi Bopara, Steven Davies (wk), Andrew Gale, Sajid Mahmood, Liam Plunkett, Darren Stevens, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Peter Trego, Jonathan Trott, Chris Woakes