Days after making a century on Test debut, Keaton Jennings has been named captain of England Lions for their tour of Sri Lanka next year. Jennings will be joined in the four-day squad by the man he replaced in the Test side, as Haseeb Hameed works back to full fitness after suffering a broken finger in India. Another man to have opened the batting alongside Alastair Cook in recent weeks, Ben Duckett, is also named in the Lions party, although only for the one-day fixtures. The Lions will play two four-day games followed by a five-match 50-over series in February and March 2017.
England’s lack of Test cricket between December and July, when they host South Africa, means that the Lions tour comes at a good time for Jennings and Hameed, who required surgery after being struck on the hand in Mohali. It will also provide another opportunity for Duckett to press his white-ball credentials, having been left out of the limited-overs squads to play India next month after an impressive ODI debut in Bangladesh.
The Lions have been in the UAE for the past few weeks, playing a four-day match against Afghanistan and three 50-over fixtures with UAE. Jennings scored a century on his Lions debut, too, and captained the team to victory in the first two one-day games.
“The Lions play such an important role in bridging the gap between county and international cricket, and after a successful training camp in the UAE culminating in an excellent win against Afghanistan, this tour of Sri Lanka is a great opportunity for the players to gain experience of playing on the subcontinent,” James Whitaker, the national selector, said. “Keaton Jennings impressed everyone on the Lions programme, with his leadership skills as well as his batting. That has already led to his call into the England Test set-up in India, but the Sri Lanka tour offers him the chance to gain further captaincy experience as well as playing some high-quality cricket in different and challenging conditions. Haseeb Hameed had also made such a promising start in Test cricket before it was cut short by injury. Like Keaton and Ben Duckett, who will be returning to the Lions after playing some brilliant innings for them in the home tri-series against Sri Lanka A and Pakistan A last summer, I know he will relish the chance of playing some quality cricket in Sri Lanka in the New Year.”
Among a host of regular Lions selections, Warwickshire legspinner Josh Poysden has won his first call-up for the 50-over leg in Sri Lanka, while Middlesex quick Tom Helm is included in both squads after being fast-tracked from the Pace Programme in Dubai.
The tour will take place between February 6 and March 13, 2017, with details of the fixtures to be announced in due course.
England Lions four-day squad: Keaton Jennings (capt), Haseeb Hameed, Nick Gubbins, Tom Alsop, Tom Westley, Joe Clarke, Liam Livingstone, Ben Foakes, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Toby Roland-Jones, Tom Helm, Craig Overton, Ollie Rayner, Jack Leach
England Lions 50-over squad: Keaton Jennings (capt), Daniel Bell-Drummond, Tom Alsop, Ben Duckett, Joe Clarke, Liam Livingstone, Ben Foakes, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Craig Overton, Tom Helm, James Fuller, Ollie Rayner, Josh Poysden