More than 50 players between the ages of 17 and 30 have been selected for involvement in the four components of the men’s International Pathway this winter – the Lions, the Young Lions, the Pace Programme, and Overseas Placements.
It means that all 18 first-class counties will have players abroad either with England or on the Pathway, spread around four continents.
Andy Flower will lead an 18-man squad on a Lions training camp in Dubai in November and December, including three 50-over matches for England Lions against the United Arab Emirates at the ICC Academy and a three-day match against Afghanistan in Sharjah.
The England selectors have named a squad including two players who have featured in senior international cricket this summer and will be in the senior England squad for the one-day series in Bangladesh – Hampshire all-rounder Liam Dawson, and Nottinghamshire fast bowler Jake Ball. 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,” explained Flower. “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.”
The Lions will be joined in Dubai in December by the Young Lions, a 17-strong squad of players who will be led by Andy Hurry, and who are all eligible for the England Under-19s tour of India in the New Year. This includes nine players who took part in this summer’s Under-19 matches against Sri Lanka, with four players from Surrey and three from Somerset.
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, Loughborough before Christmas, and then travel 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.
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.
“We’ve already seen players such as Sam Curran, George Garton and Saqib Mahmood advance rapidly from the England Under-19s to the Lions this year, and Sam has now been selected for the Lions training camp while George and Saqib will be on the Pace Programme, and other recent Under-19 internationals such as Mason Crane, Dan Lawrence, Tom Moores and Aneurin Donald will be on Overseas Placements in Sydney or Perth.”
For further explanation and full details of this winter’s International Pathway programmes, please see ecb.co.uk.
Lions (for training camps at Sandhurst, Loughborough, Dubai, Nov/Dec, including white-ball matches against UAE, three-day match against Afghanistan): 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, Dubai, Nov/Dec): 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 in 2016, then warm-weather camp at Potchefstroom in January 2017): 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.