England Lions v Sri Lanka A, Unofficial Test, Scarborough, 1st day August 2, 2011

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.

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  • Nilantha on August 3, 2011, 17:27 GMT

    well done to SL A for a good performance so far against this Lions team...We have a few promisiong youngsters standing up to be counted in terms of their performances...

  • Duncan on August 3, 2011, 14:46 GMT

    @Lateralis how can you say that? Just look at Bopara's home test debut. England were struggling at 100 odd for 4 and he scored a big hundred. There have been at least two games this season where he has seen Essex over the line in big run chases and several others where has stood up when most others have failed. I think he's been unfairly targeted with this 'temperament' slur. He deserves another go..

  • Jordan on August 3, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    if they select bopara over taylor they will be making a massive error... Taylor has got talent and will be a england player for years to come..

  • Duncan on August 3, 2011, 11:12 GMT

    It would be a real kick in the teeth for Bopara if Taylor got in ahead of him. I don't doubt Taylor's talent, but Bopara has scored big runs at crucial times in the championship, whereas I don't recall Taylor doing that this season (just look at the match last week where Leics and Taylor were 34 all out and Bopara made a big ton).

  • James on August 3, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    Bopara doesn't have the mental fortitude to survive in Test cricket. All his international innings to date, and his performances this season, provide ample evidence. All you have to do is look back at all of the comments he made at the start of the season when he blamed everything and everyone except himself for getting out consistently to the moving ball. His footwork is poor, his shot selection rash and temperament appalling. I think the media collectively have got to stop touting Bopara as the next big thing and let him get on with county cricket. Allow him to concentrate fully on cricket rather than be distracted with one eye on the golden prize of a place in England's middle order. Such an approach worked for Swann: he thought he had no chance of getting into the England side and just started to enjoy life and cricket. It's little wonder that during those happy times he improved manifold and look where he is now.

  • Samuel on August 2, 2011, 21:59 GMT

    I think Taylor may well be ahead of Bopara to be honest - Bopara's form took a massive downturn after he wasn't picked last time, and since Trott's injury had made this an important innings for him, he failed once again to show he could put his hand up at the right time. It's certainly not a lack of talent with Ravi, it's all in his head. If he can sort himself out mentally - how he copes with pressure and disappointment - he will be a formidable player. Taylor meanwhile, has produced a good innings in awkward circumstances today. The fact that he is so often has been the only light for Leicestershire in the Championship in the past shows he isn't fazed by a dangerous scenario, and I'd feel much more comfortable with him walking in with England at 20-3 than I would Bopara!

  • Ross on August 2, 2011, 21:57 GMT

    It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when Taylor gets in to the England side. He's got 'Test Batsman' written all over him.

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