England Lions triangular series July 24, 2014

Flower to coach strong Lions team


Andy Flower will return to frontline coaching less than six months after stepping down as England's team director when he takes charge of a strong Lions team, featuring Steven Finn, Jonny Bairstow and Ravi Bopara, in their triangular series against New Zealand A and Sri Lanka A next month.

Flower, whose hugely successful five-year tenure with England came to jarring end with an Ashes whitewash over the winter, has since moved into a leadership role with the ECB - his official job title is "Technical Director of Elite Coaching". He will oversee the Lions in four 50-over matches, rather than the usual candidate, ECB performance director, Dave Parsons.

Finn's return to England involvement is one of several noteworthy selections. Finn was sent home from Australia after being deemed unselectable, becoming like Flower a casualty of England's disastrous tour. Bairstow, who played the fourth and fifth Ashes Tests but has not been in a squad since, will get the chance to press his claims as Matt Prior's successor should Jos Buttler fail to step up convincingly from his limited-overs role.

The team will be captained by James Taylor, the Nottinghamshire batsman and Lions regular who played two Tests under Flower in 2012, and also includes Bopara, whose Test ambitions remain on hold despite being a regular in ODI and T20 cricket for England.

England's search for a spinner has seen them alight on Middlesex's left-armer Ravi Patel, who has played just three List A matches in his career, though Lancashire's Stephen Parry is also included after being involved in the disastrous World T20 campaign in Bangladesh. Jason Roy's excellent form for Surrey has been rewarded, David Willey returns after injury setbacks over the winter and there is an opportunity for Somerset's Craig Overton , whose twin brother Jamie was selected for the full ODI squad last year. Tom Smith, the Lancashire allrounder, is also recognised for his strong domestic season so far.

Alex Hales, the T20 opener previously ranked No. 1 in the world, is expected to make the transition to 50-over cricket when England play five ODIs against India later in the summer and the Lions series will further inform the selectors as part of preparations for the 2015 World Cup.

"With the Royal London one-day international series against India rapidly approaching and next winter's tour to Sri Lanka and ICC Cricket World Cup also firmly in our sights, this is the perfect opportunity for these players to impress the selectors in the 50-over format of the game," the national selector, James Whitaker, said. "We are delighted to welcome Ravi Patel from Middlesex into a Lions squad for the first time and look forward to what promises to be a closely contested series against two highly competitive touring sides."

The Lions will begin their involvement in the triangular series against Sri Lanka A in Taunton on August 6, before facing New Zealand A in Bristol two days later. The other two fixtures will be played at New Road the following week.

England Lions squad: James Taylor (Nottinghamshire, capt), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Ravi Bopara (Essex), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Stephen Parry (Lancashire), Harry Gurney (Nottinghamshire), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Craig Overton (Somerset), Jason Roy (Surrey), Ravi Patel (Middlesex), Tom Smith (Lancashire), James Vince (Hampshire), David Willey (Northamptonshire)

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • James on July 25, 2014, 13:21 GMT

    WHat about Danny Briggs and Simon Kerrigan?

  • Clifford on July 25, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    "Technical Director", "Performance Director"? If Flower wasn't good enough to coach the England team why is he good enough for the Lions?

    The team looks strong for an England limited overs squad but it seems to me like we know what a lot of these guys can do already. Ravi, Bairstow and Hales especially who would probably be in the squad against India anyway. I would like to see more guy who haven't played for England before. I reckon England has been pretty poor in ODIs and there needs to be as much trial of new blood before the World Cup.

  • James on July 25, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    "strong Lions team" looks decidedly mediocre to me.

  • John on July 25, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    @CodAndChips - I don't have huge opinions as I don't care that much.

    But my opinion is that we pick some 4 day players for 1 day games and I'm of the opinion that if they're not anywhere near the one day set up then leave them playing for their counties which IMO is better experience.

    So I'm with Brusselslion in that I'd like to see more 3or4 day games but I guess there is less revenue. I'd like to have seen Buttler learn his trade more as a WK in such games but he's in at the deep end (IMO wrongly) in the full side. If there was no other option then I would not be so against it but you have a much better WK who is in better batting form too - it's a no brainer. I don't think I could ever disagree with any Eng selection more than Buttler over Read. I could have reasoned with Bairstow as he is a more experienced keeper and probably still a better 1st class batsman or Foster who is a superb WK.

  • Paulo on July 25, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    @JG2704 A coupled of years ago I thought that Jimmy Adams had to play in the T20I side. He was easily the best in the country in T20. I also thought it would be nice to have a Hants player in the side.

    Seeing Carberry get his well-deserved and overdue call-up was nice too. However seeing him struggle wasn't nice. Moreover I think he was treated a bit harshly, as he should have played the T20I at the Ageas Bowl, and hasn't been given much of a solid run in the side.

    Also Hants players are much more important for Hampshire than for England. Therefore I don't care if they don't get selected.Eg for England there are many opening batsmen options. But for Hants there's no Carberry replacement.

    Also should Trego have been picked? Perhaps instead of Bopara?

  • Paulo on July 25, 2014, 7:04 GMT

    @JG2704 Food for thought. The only Notts players to have played for England are Hales and Gurney, and at the time both were considered white-ball specialists while the only county games were in the championship.

    However I reckon Hales has to do more than most to get into the side because he has to hope that England drop one of the royal couple at the top.

    Yeah when Southampton players get called up it's nice. When Hampshire players get called up it's nice too. But Hampshire's squad isn't deep enough in quality to cover it. For instance when Carberry, Vince and Briggs were on Lions duty last year, we had to make do with Michael Roberts and Brad Taylor in the side, and there was an obvious gulf in class.

    What's your general thoughts on the side? As I said in my other comments I reckon it's pretty much one of the strongest we could field. What do you think of my other comments re certain players/ the balance of the side.

    Contrast the potential top 4 of this side to the ODI top 4.

  • John on July 24, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    @Dave1965 on (July 24, 2014, 16:13 GMT)I think Overton (judging by stats) is the better batsman but as both a Somerset fan and a Plymothian I'm really pleased and surprised to see LG doing so well in the 1st class game. If Kirby wasn't injured we may not have seen him play much more than the odd SF appearance - talk about a blessing in disguise

  • John on July 24, 2014, 22:44 GMT

    @CodAndChips - Yeah we've said about this players from a team being selected before. And re football , you must have been pleased with all the Saints (or should I say ex Saints - sorry) players being selected as it didn't affect their availability for the club. I believe sides get rewarded in cricket for test call ups etc but there must come a point where you could lose so many players it becomes more a hindrance. Obviously sides like Notts,Yorks,Warwicks have deep squads but if we lose Compton the difference in quality between him and the replacement are huge I often thought that about Newell. I wonder if the games didn't clash with county games if we'd see more Notts players in the fold?

  • David on July 24, 2014, 21:26 GMT

    Finn wasn't a casualty like Flower, he was a casualty OF Flower. His decline began when after a great early performance in Australia 2010, he was rested then effectively discarded, shattering his confidence. Then when his stump clipping became an issue they turned a small correction into a major mess, and a fast bowler into a fast medium pacer. Nobody who saw him bowl in Oz 2010 would have thought he'd be anywhere other than leading the England attack in 2014. Flower never knew how to pick or handle bowlers - leaving Onions out and taking Rankiin and Tremlett 2013 was the worst selection in living memory. Then selecting Swann instead of Panesar for Perth (where Panesar has a great record and Swann a poor onw - plus he was mentallly already retired) then picking Panesar for Melbourne but Cook throwing the ball to Joe Root instead... the roll-call of squandered England talent under Flower is very very long and is his poisonous legacy. Compton, Taylor... the list goes on and on

  • Dummy4 on July 24, 2014, 21:04 GMT

    Re The Lions competition: We are told the domestic competition has to be 50 overs not 40 overs, so that players can prepare themselves for international one day cricket.

    Then whilst the new Royal London one day cup is on, the centrally contracted England players, and the players selected for the Lions, will will be unavailable and miss a large portion of this now devalued cup. Fans miss out seeing the best players in action, and the dead overs in the middle will make many fans long for the return of 40 over cricket.

  • No featured comments at the moment.