Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley in England Lions squad to face Australia A


England have handed Lions call-ups to Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley, two young openers who could come into Ashes contention, for next week’s four-day match against Australia A at Canterbury.

Sibley, of Warwickshire, is currently the leading run-scorer in Division One of the County Championship, with 922 at 70.92, while Kent’s Crawley is fourth with 639 at 42.60. Both are set to make debuts for the Lions, alongside Gloucestershire batsman James Bracey and Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson, who are included in a provisional XI.

There has been much uncertainty around England’s Test top three, following the retirement of Alastair Cook and the absence of a regular No. 3. Andy Flower, the Lions head coach, suggested that the players selected would be “looking to stake a claim” for the Ashes, with Sibley perhaps the leading candidate after a stellar run of form.

Sibley helped Warwickshire win promotion last season and started 2019 by extending a sequence of hundreds to six in successive first-class matches. This week he compiled a career-best 244 against Kent at Canterbury, overhauling the 242 not out he made as a teenager at Surrey in 2013 (making him the youngest double-centurion in Championship history).

“We’re really looking forward to a great challenge against a very experienced Australia A side, some of whom will be looking to stake a claim for Ashes selection,” Flower said. “We’ve got a very good squad of players travelling with us to Canterbury; one that’s more than capable of delivering a positive result.

“Lions selection is always tricky. We’ve got an eye on the England team’s short-term needs ahead of a busy winter schedule, but we’re looking at some medium- and long-term prospects as well. We also need to respect the counties’ needs during this busy time in the domestic season.

“While some players will be playing at this level for the first time, there is plenty of experience in our squad too. This will be a great learning opportunity for all these players and a chance to test themselves against a strong opposition.”

There is England experience in the side, with wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, who played five of six Tests over the winter, batsman Ben Duckett and spinner Jack Leach among those previously capped. Somerset’s Lewis Gregory, who is the leading pace bowler in the Championship with 44 wickets at 12.93, won an England call-up in 2015 but has yet to feature at international level.

Also included are Essex seamer Jamie Porter, who was close to a Test cap last summer; Lancashire’s rapid young faster bowler Saqib Mahmood; and Hampshire batsman Sam Northeast, who will be a contender to captain the side.

England Lions squad: James Bracey, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Lewis Gregory, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Sam Northeast, Jamie Porter, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley

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