LONDON, England, CMC – Test reject Ravi Bopara and rising star Steve Finn have been included in a strong England Lions 16-man squad named yesterday to do battle in the West Indies Cricket Board first class championship starting next February.
Both players have already suited up in 10 Tests and will further strengthen a side led by Somerset batsman James Hildreth, and which includes three other players with international experience.
The Lions leave on January 24 for the tournament which the West Indies Cricket Board said yesterday would run from February 4th to April 11th.
“The tour of the West Indies gives those players who have been working hard throughout the first part of the winter an opportunity to test themselves in a competitive environment and to continue to put forward a case for inclusion in England squads over the summer,” England selector Geoff Miller said.
“The England Performance Programme and England Lions tours are often crucial stages in a player’s development and offer coaches and selectors an insight into whether players have the potential to develop into world-class cricketers and thrive on the international stage.
“This is a balanced squad combining players who have had considerable exposure to international and first-class cricket with younger players who have already shown considerable promise.”
A talented batsman, the 25-year-old Bopara has been out of favour with selectors for over a year now, having played his last Test last year August against Australia at home.
He will have fond memories of the Caribbean, having scored two centuries when England toured there in 2009.
Finn, meanwhile, will be available for the first half of the tournament with Chris Woakes being drafted in for the latter half.
The 21-year Finn made his debut in March this year against Bangladesh and has improved quickly to be a key member of England’s pace attack during the current Ashes tour. In his short career, he has taken 41 wickets at nearly 25 apiece.
England Lions will also boast Craig Kieswetter, Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid all of whom have already represented the senior team in either Tests or One-Day Internationals
Kieswetter, an attacking opener who starred when England won the World Twenty20 Championship in the Caribbean this year, has played 12 ODIs while leg-spinner Rashid has played five.
Fast bowler Plunkett, meanwhile, has played nine Tests and 28 ODIs.
SQUAD – James Hildreth (captain), Jimmy Adams, Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Danny Briggs, Maurice Chambers, Jade Dernbach, Steve Finn, Andrew Gale, James Harris, Craig Kieswetter, Adam Lyth, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, Chris Woakes.