Taylor hits 76 to keep selectors on notice
Sri Lanka A 27 for 0 v England Lions 299 (Taylor 76, Senanayake 5-47)
England may yet need a replacement batsman for the third Test against India, if Jonathan Trott fails to recover from his shoulder injury, so James Taylor picked a good opportunity to top score for the Lions against Sri Lanka A. Taylor made 76 while Ravi Bopara, who is probably the frontrunner for a vacant spot, fell for 19 as the Lions posted 299 at Scarborough.
Taylor, who came into the match in good form having made 168 against the same opposition for Leicestershire, batted for just under four hours after arriving following Bopara's dismissal. Given that Bopara was edged out by Eoin Morgan earlier in the season, and has recently hit 178 for Essex on a tough pitch at Southend, it may not quite be Taylor's time but he won't have too wait too long.
"It's nice for me personally to get some runs but more importantly the partnerships with Jonny Bairstow and Samit Patel helped us recover and post a challenging score," Taylor said. "Of course there's plenty for us all to play for individually during the match as there is every time we play for the Lions but we all want to beat Sri Lanka A convincingly this week."
Alex Hales, another batsman touted for England honours, and Samit Patel who has earned a one-day call this season also hit half-centuries as did Jonny Bairstow but Sri Lanka's kept chipping away. Nilanka Premaratne made early inroads with 2 for 51 before offspinner Sachithra Senanayake claimed 5 for 47, and Sri Lanka's openers Malinda Warnapura and Lahiru Thirimanne then reached the close without undue alarm.
Yorkshire youngster Joe Root fell for 10, trapped in front by Premaratne, and Bopara also failed to offer much support to Hales, edging a rash hook at Kanishka Alvitigala to wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva. Hales reached his half-century from 74 balls, with eight fours, but fell next ball when Premaratne lured him into offering a second catch to captain Silva, leaving the hosts 99 for 3.
Taylor took up the baton and, although he lost Craig Kieswetter for a sixth-ball duck, he found a willing and able partner in another of Yorkshire's young guns, Bairstow. The pair shared in a stand of 107, with the diminutive Taylor combining his improvised nurdling with two sixes in a patient 103-ball fifty.
Bairstow reached the landmark more quickly, in 78 balls with 10 fours, but like Hales he fell shortly afterwards without adding to his score. That left the hosts 208 for 5 at tea but another strong partnership followed, Taylor and Patel's stand reaching 50 with the latter having contributed 40 at a run-a-ball.
In keeping with the theme of the innings, though, Patel fell before converting into some more substantial after completing a 48-ball half-century. Taylor quickly followed, lbw to Sachithra Serasinghe, for 76 which was the same score as he made against the full Sri Lanka side at Derby in May.
Senanayake, having had Kieswetter and Patel caught by Dimuth Karunaratne, removed Scott Borthwick in the same fashion and bowled Stuart Meaker before completing his five-wicket haul by dismissing last man Jade Dernbach.