The ECB has announced a spin-heavy England Lions training squad for a winter training camp in the UAE next month. Ten players have been drafted into the second-tier set-up for the first time.
With the England men’s Test side travelling to India for a five-match series in January, eight spinners have been selected for this trip. These include Leicestershire’s Rehan Ahmed ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/rehan-ahmed-1263691), who made his Test debut against Pakistan last winter, and Middlesex offspinner Josh De Caires ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/joshua-de-caires-1115195), earning his first Lions call after taking 27 Division One wickets at 25.59.
Other notable inclusions are Tom Lawes ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/tom-lawes-1264775), whose 30 dismissals helped Surrey to the County Championship, and Somerset’s James Rew ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/james-rew-1184436), who struck five centuries among 1086 runs, which earned him the PCA Young Player of the Year award. Fast bowlers Matthew Fisher ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/matthew-fisher-639080), Matthew Potts ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/matthew-potts-1027781), Josh Tongue ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/josh-tongue-857975) and Brydon Carse ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/brydon-carse-596417), all of whom have international caps to their name, will also attend the camp, which runs from November 16 to December 7.
The aim of the three weeks is as much to reward performances over the last season as it is to understand the depth of England’s pathway. Those selected are deemed “high potential players” and will focus primarily on developing red-ball skills, closely aligned to England’s future requirements ahead of the subcontinent tour at the start of 2024. Lancashire’s Tom Hartley ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/tom-hartley-1150772) and Sussex’s Jack Carson ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/jack-carson-1145101) – left-arm orthodox and offbreak bowlers, respectively – are two such players who could be considered for the Test tour. Hartley made his England debut during the recent ODI series with Ireland, while Carson took 31 wickets this season.
The focus on spinners in the short term is vital given the lack of options following Moeen Ali’s Test retirement at the end of the Ashes, and with Adil Rashid focussing solely on white-ball cricket. Lead spinner Jack Leach is continuing his recovery from a back stress fracture sustained at the start of the summer.
Players and counties were consulted around selection, with several players not selected either because of pre-existing commitments or other opportunities overseas deemed more beneficial to their individual needs.
England men’s performance director Mo Bobat said, “At the end of an enjoyable season and after close dialogue with players and counties, it’s exciting to confirm our group that will travel to Abu Dhabi for a training camp later this year.
“The camp will provide an excellent opportunity for the players to develop their red ball game and allow us to learn more about them as people and players.
“In selecting the group, we’ve carefully considered England’s short and long-term needs in Test cricket, particularly with sub-continent challenges in mind.
“It’s quite a large group and it’s great that we can support player development in this way for what should be a fun camp.”
The coaching and mentoring group accompanying the party will be announced in due course.
England Lions training group: Rehan Ahmed (Leicestershire), George Balderson (Lancashire), Shoaib Bashir (Somerset), Josh Bohannon (Lancashire), Brydon Carse (Durham), Jack Carson (Sussex), James Coles (Sussex), Josh De Caires (Middlesex), Matthew Fisher (Yorkshire), Tom Hartley (Lancashire), Lyndon James (Nottinghamshire), Tom Lawes (Surrey), Dan Mousley (Warwickshire), Callum Parkinson (Durham), Matthew Potts (Durham), Rishi Patel (Leicestershire), Ollie Price (Gloucestershire), James Rew (Somerset), Ollie Robinson (Durham), Josh Tongue (Nottinghamshire), John Turner (Hampshire)