Jack Leach and Craig Overton have both been included in the England Lions squad for the tour of Sri Lanka next February and March.
The two Somerset players impressed on the recent tour of Abu Dhabi and Craig has been included in both the four-day and one-day squads with Jack included in the four-day squad.
Following his selection Craig said: “The tour that we got back from yesterday was good and I was pleased to be able to put in some decent performances. Obviously I did something right and I’m really looking forward to going out to Sri Lanka now. Hopefully I can push for a place in the four-day team and keep my place in the one-day team. It’s really nice to be in both squads and hopefully I can push on from here. I’m pleased that Jack will be there too. He’s done really well for us in the four-day stuff and it’s nice that he’s getting recognition for that.”
Jack is also pleased to have been included. “I’m really pleased to be in the four-day squad and it’ll be more good experience for me,” he said. “Hopefully it will be a chance for me to win some more games with the Lions and put in some good individual performances. I’m taking everything one step at a time and taking as much as I can from each experience. It’s great for Craig that he is in both squads. I’m so pleased for him. He’s done really well and impressed everyone on the last tour. He’s bowling well and got some crucial runs too. I’m sure he’ll play a big part for the Lions in Sri Lanka.”
Keaton Jennings will lead the Lions. The Durham opener, who joined a select band to score a century on Test debut, will be joined in Sri Lanka by both Haseeb Hameed and Ben Duckett.
Hameed has been included in a 15-man squad for the first section, which is due to include two four-day matches against Sri Lanka A, while Duckett is in a separate 14-man squad for a five-match 50-over series.
Jennings is one of 10 players included for both sections – with Tom Alsop, Joe Clarke, Liam Livingstone, Ben Foakes, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Ollie Rayner, Craig Overton and Tom Helm.
Hameed, Nick Gubbins, Tom Westley, Toby Roland-Jones and Jack Leach have been selected for the first part of the tour, with Duckett, Daniel Bell-Drummond, James Fuller and Josh Poysden coming in for the 50-over series.
James Whitaker, the National Selector who watched the Lions beat Afghanistan in a historic first-class match in Abu Dhabi last week, said: “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.
Details of the fixtures have still to be finalised with Sri Lanka Cricket, but will be published as soon as possible.
England Lions squads for Sri Lanka tour, February 6 – March 13
For first section, including four-day matches v Sri Lanka A: K Jennings (Durham, capt), H Hameed (Lancashire), N Gubbins (Middlesex), T Alsop (Hampshire), T Westley (Essex), J Clarke (Worcestershire), L Livingstone (Lancashire), B Foakes (Surrey), S Curran (Surrey), T Curran (Surrey), T Roland-Jones (Middlesex), T Helm (Middlesex), C Overton (Somerset), O Rayner (Middlesex), J Leach (Somerset).
For 50-over series v Sri Lanka A: K Jennings (Durham, capt), D Bell-Drummond (Kent), T Alsop (Hampshire), B Duckett (Northamptonshire), J Clarke (Worcestershire), L Livingstone (Lancashire), B Foakes (Surrey), S Curran (Surrey), T Curran (Surrey), C Overton (Somerset), T Helm (Middlesex), J Fuller (Middlesex), O Rayner (Middlesex), J Poysden (Warwickshire).
* Jack Leach images courtesy of Getty Images