England Lions in Sri Lanka 2013-14 January 15, 2014

Kerrigan in doubt for Lions tour


Middlesex's offspinning allrounder Ollie Rayner has been put on standby for the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka after concerns emerged about Simon Kerrigan's fitness. Kerrigan has a back problem and is due to be assessed by medical staff next week.

Rayner, an unusually tall spinner, claimed figures of 15 for 118 in a Championship match against Surrey at The Oval in September, the best figures by a Middlesex bowler since Fred Titmus in 1955. While his overall record remains modest, Rayner enjoyed by far the best season of his career in 2013, taking 46 first-class wickets at an average of 22.04, and, aged 28, should still have his best years ahead of him.

He was called up to the England Performance Squad at the end of 2008 but has never won national selection at any level. The retirement of Graeme Swann, however, and the struggles of Monty Panesar and Kerrigan have left the door ajar for several candidates who might previously have thought international cricket would prove a step too far.

Rayner will train with the Lions squad at the National Performance Centre in Loughborough this week, with the tour party set to depart at the end of January.

Kerrigan, having earned a reputation as the brightest young spinner in county cricket over recent seasons, endured a chastening Test debut at The Oval in August, where his eight overs were thrashed for 53 and he was not trusted to bowl in the second innings. While he was included in the England Performance Programme squad to tour Australia, the 24-year-old slow left-armer was subsequently withdrawn to continue to work on his game in the less-pressurised environments at Loughborough and Old Trafford.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Mark on January 16, 2014, 11:14 GMT

    @ChristopherG Thanks!! I should have remembered Paul Terry. I watched his debut.

  • Chris on January 16, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    @Cricketingstargazer. Just for information: Paul Terry played two test matches for England in 1984 and Donald Carr played two test matches for England between 1951 and 1952; both were born in Germany.

  • Paulo on January 16, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    And so, the overhyping of average spinners begins. First Briggs, then Kerrigan, then Borthwick, and soon Rayner. Who will be next, Max Waller?

  • Simon on January 16, 2014, 8:08 GMT

    He should not be anywhere near the Lions squad, one good haul does not a test match spinner make. If he continues his improvement this county season though, then maybe he'd be worth giving a try.

  • Mark on January 16, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    @Jon Peters True. He is regarded as Middlesex's #2 spinner behind Patel and was only holding onto his place in the side thanks to his batting and the very flakey Middlesex middle order!

    However, that said, his performances last summer were much better with the ball and that Surrey game was a case of putting in a big performance at the right time and in the right place.

    I don't *think* that he would be the first German-born cricketer to play for England, but I can't recall who the first one might have been.

    Lovely comment, Jonesy2! A lot of people on here would ban members of British families who were born abroad from ever returning. Spirit of tolerance and equality!

  • Mark on January 15, 2014, 22:13 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer, well said I couldn't have put it better! of course being born in Germany he is so obviously a product of the German system of cricketing excellence isn't he?

  • Samuel on January 15, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    Has potential - is older than most of the other candidates and knows his game better, and could perform a useful holding role ala Harris/Giles for England's quicks. Whether he's good enough to win you games though on the fifth day on a crumbling pitch though, I'm not sure. He's a decent player though, and if Kerrigan doesn't make it he & Borthwick would actually make a nice combination for this tour: one an attacking leg spinner, the other a constricting off spinner. Could form a nice partnership.

  • Dummy4 on January 15, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    Seriously I'm starting to doubt the mental toughness of today's youth! Root, Finn and Kerrigan have crumbled as soon as the going got tough!

  • Dummy4 on January 15, 2014, 17:06 GMT

    Rayner is a handy player and it was a shame Sussex didn't hang onto him. But he's not Middlesex's number 1 spinner and he gives it a tweak, gets bounce because he's tall, he bats well and he is quite a good fielder. Not sure what's holding him back unless England go with Borthwick who to be fair is the only other young spinner vying to compete with him if we're discounting Monty who ought to have the number 1 spot anyway by now. the number 2 spot is what I'm on about and Rayner or Borthwick should get it

  • Mark on January 15, 2014, 16:22 GMT

    Ollie Rayner should send a bunch of flowers (or something) to Michael Vaughan for plugging is case on TMS during the 5th Test. He is aware that there is an opening there, but thinks that it's still a bit early to talk of a Test call-up.

    Just waiting for all the "just look where he was born..." postings to start. Pssst! I wasn't in England.

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