Steve Rhodes in frame for England Lions role
Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes is in contention to be part of the England Lions coaching set-up during the squad's tour to the UAE.
Rhodes would join former England head coach Andy Flower, now the ECB's technical director of elite coaching, and the ECB's lead batting coach Graham Thorpe in working with the squad which will be named later this week. Thorpe will act as batting coach, with Flower overseeing the squad more generally.
England Lions will spend much of the winter in the UAE. The squad have a training camp at a similar time to the main squad's visit, and will then play five T20 fixtures against Pakistan A in the lead-up to Christmas, before returning to the UAE in January to play five 50-over matches.
Unsurprisingly given their location and recent English shortcomings, there will be a focus on how the batsmen play spin bowling. It is also likely that a group of fast bowlers will spend time training in South Africa later in the year.
Former England wicketkeeper Rhodes started his playing career with Yorkshire before moving to Worcestershire in 1985, where he played for 20 seasons. He joined the club's coaching staff in 2005 and became director of cricket in 2006. He played 11 Tests for England in 1995 and 1996 and nine ODIs between 1989 and 1995.
Under his watch, Worcestershire have yo-yoed between Divisions One and Two, and are likely to be relegated this season, their first back in the top division. Rhodes is highly respected on the county circuit for what he has achieved with limited resources and his ability to nurture young players. A number of the latest batch, such as Joe Leach, Ben Cox, Joe Clarke and Tom Fell, will be in contention for a place in the UAE. Rhodes is the latest in a line of highly rated county coaches to be introduced to the Lions set-up, such as Mark Robinson of Sussex.
The most high-profile names in the squad are likely to be Gary Ballance, whose pair for Yorkshire against Middlesex has come at a terrible time, and Sussex's Chris Jordan. Tymal Mills, the left-arm fast bowler, is likely to take a place in the squad for the T20 leg of the tour, while Lancashire's left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan will return to the national set-up and Essex's Tom Westley - who impressed with a century against the touring Australians this year - is set to be called up for the first time.