More than 50 players between the ages of 17 and 30, including representatives from all 18 first-class counties, have been selected for involvement this winter in the four components of the ECB's rebranded International Pathway programme, which will feature training camps and fixtures spread across four continents.
Nick Gubbins and Keaton Jennings, two of the outstanding batsman of the 2016 county season, are among the 18 players selected for this winter's Lions training camps, the senior tier of the programme, who will undergo training at Sandhurst, Loughborough and Dubai before playing three 50-over matches against the United Arab Emirates at the ICC Academy, and a three-day match against Afghanistan in Sharjah.
A further 17 players have been selected for the Young Lions, all of whom will be eligible for the Under-19 internationals against India in the New Year. They will link up with the Lions squad in Dubai in December, where they will be supervised by Andy Hurry, the Young Lions head coach.
In addition, five young fast bowlers between the ages of 19 and 23 have been selected for the Pace Programme, under which they will combine training with their counties and at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough before Christmas, before travelling to the High Performance Institute of Sport in Potchefstroom for warm-weather altitude training in the New Year.
Another nine players - five spinners, and four batsmen - have been selected for Overseas Placements, in either Perth, Sydney, Adelaide or Wellington, where the emphasis will be on developing their independence as well as their cricketing skills, and they will work closely with local experts such as Warwickshire's former New Zealand offspinner Jeetan Patel, the former Australia legspinner Stuart MacGill, and the renowned Western Australia batting coach, Neil "Noddy" Holder.
Two members of the Lions squad have already played for England this season, and will be linking up with the senior squad for the one-day series in Bangladesh - Hampshire's left-arm spinner Liam Dawson and Jake Ball, the Nottinghamshire fast bowler. Six other members of the squad played for England Lions in their successful Tri-Series against the A teams of Pakistan and Sri Lanka this summer - Kent's Daniel Bell-Drummond, Worcestershire's Joe Clarke, Toby Roland-Jones of Middlesex, Surrey's Tom Curran and his younger brother Sam, who made his debut for the Lions in that series, as did Lancashire's Liam Livingstone.
"This squad is for the first half of our Lions programme this winter," Andy Flower, the Lions head coach, said. "Firstly to build on some of the leadership work we did at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst last winter, which leads into a short camp at Loughborough, before we head out to Dubai later in November.
"We are taking 18 players because, whereas last winter, and in our Tri-Series this summer, our focus was specifically on white-ball cricket, this year we will be working on both white-ball and red-ball skills. Developing skill will remain the highest priority of our work, with a range of specialist coaches to work with the players in the excellent facilities at the ICC Academy, and initially the opportunity to do that away from the different demands of competition.
"However towards the end of the camp we will play as England Lions in white-ball and red-ball fixtures, and an England Lions squad will then be selected later in December for a tour of Sri Lanka in February and March which will again involve white-ball and red-ball fixtures."
David Parsons, the ECB's performance director who leads the men's International Pathway, said: "We hope that bringing all aspects of the International Pathway together in this form will help to show the range of ways in which the ECB is working with the first-class counties to prepare players for international cricket.
"Our relationships with the counties are stronger and more collaborative than ever, and it is in these winter months that we can really offer additional value to the players, investing in their development by giving them high-quality cricketing experiences overseas - helping to bridge the gap to international cricket.
"It's also important for us that the different elements of the Pathway work together. For example this December the Lions and Young Lions will be together in Dubai for a short period, and most of the Lions coaches will stay on to work specifically with the Young Lions later in the month."
Lions (for training camps at Sandhurst, Loughborough, Dubai): Nick Gubbins (Middlesex), Keaton Jennings (Durham), Tom Alsop (Hampshire), Daniel Bell-Drummond (Kent), Tom Westley (Essex), Joe Clarke (Worcestershire), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Ollie Rayner (Middlesex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Sam Curran (Surrey), Tom Curran (Surrey), Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex), Jake Ball (Nottinghamshire), James Fuller (Middlesex), Craig Overton (Somerset), Stuart Meaker (Surrey).
*Tom Helm (Middlesex), Matt Parkinson (Lancashire) and Josh Poysden (Warwickshire) have been invited to join the Lions camp in Dubai.
Young Lions (for training camps in Loughborough): Max Holden (Middlesex), Harry Brook (Yorkshire), George Bartlett (Somerset), Josh Dell (Worcestershire), Tom Banton (Somerset), Ben Green (Somerset), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Delray Rawlins (Sussex), Amar Virdi (Surrey), Josh Coughlin (Durham), Will Jacks (Surrey), Euan Woods (Surrey), Liam Banks (Warwickshire), Aaron Beard (Essex), George Panayi (Warwickshire), Jack Blatherwick (Nottinghamshire), George Scrimshaw (Worcestershire).
Pace Programme (to train at counties / Loughborough and Potchefstroom): Paul Coughlin (Durham), George Garton (Sussex), Tom Helm (Middlesex), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Matt Taylor (Gloucestershire).
*Reece Topley (Hampshire) and Jamie Overton (Somerset) may also join the Pace Programme in Potchefstroom as part of their return from injury.
Overseas Placements: Matthew Carter (Nottinghamshire) and Rob Sayer (Leicestershire) - Wellington; Mason Crane (Hampshire) and Matt Critchley (Derbyshire) - Sydney; Dominic Bess (Somerset) - Adelaide; Tom Abell (Somerset), Aneurin Donald (Glamorgan), Dan Lawrence (Essex) and Tom Moores (Nottinghamshire) - Perth.