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July 27, 2012
Eoin Morgan will captain England Lions in their two-match series against Australia A next month. The 13-man squad for the four-day matches at Old Trafford and Edgbaston includes three others with Test experience while every player has previously represented the Lions.
Morgan, Samit Patel, Jonny Bairstow and James Tredwell have Test caps to their name, while Craig Kieswetter, Stuart Meaker, James Taylor and Chris Woakes have also played one-day internationals.
The inclusion of cricketers who already play regular international cricket - such as Morgan, Kieswetter and Patel - shows how seriously the selectors are taking the matches ahead of the back-to-back Ashes series next year rather than using it as a chance to purely blood youth.
However, they stopped short of naming any of the current Test reserves such as Graham Onions or Steven Finn who are both in the mix to face South Africa at Headingley. The Australia A squad, which is led by Ed Cowan contains considerable experience, most notably Mitchell Johnson.
For Morgan the series is a chance to restate his Test credentials after his poor series against Pakistan earlier this year which led to him being dropped for the following tour of Sri Lanka. Since then Patel, Bairstow and now Ravi Bopara have been given middle-order roles in the Test team. However, Morgan showed impressive form in the recent one-day series against Australia including a match-winning, unbeaten 89 at Lord's.
With Bopara making an uncertain return to the Test side against South Africa and Bairstow struggling against West Indies earlier this season the No. 6 spot is yet to be cemented and a strong finish to the summer - with the Lions and Middlesex - will put Morgan back in contention.
Elsewhere the squad is a mixture of experienced county cricketers - Patel, Tredwell and the leading run-scorer of the season Nick Compton - plus young players who have already been integrated into the England set up. Taylor and Joe Root, who recently scored a double hundred in the Championship, are among the next generation of batsmen vying for an opportunity while Stuart Meaker is one of the quickest bowlers in the country.
Tredwell is accompanied in the spin department by Lancashire's Simon Kerrigan who was part of the squad to face the West Indians earlier this season but did not make the final XI at Wantage Road. From the team that won that match by 10 wickets, Michael Carberry (injury), Jack Brooks and Jade Dernbach are not in this squad along with Ian Bell who used that game as Test preparation.
Although the selectors see these two matches as crucial to the development of Test players they are likely to create further tensions with counties who will lose key names for Championship matches as the competiton enters its final third.
Jonny Bairstow, Matt Coles, Nick Compton, James Harris, Simon Kerrigan, Craig Kieswetter, Stuart Meaker, Eoin Morgan (capt), Samit Patel, Joe Root, James Taylor, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes
August 7, Old Trafford
August 14, Edgbaston
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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