Friday, December 16th, 2016

Clarke: Lions Well Prepared For Challenges Ahead In Sri Lanka

Clarke: Lions Well Prepared For Challenges Ahead In Sri Lanka

Joe Clarke says England Lions have been given "the best possible preparations" for the forthcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

The Worcestershire batsman is part of the squad to take on Sri Lanka A in two four-day games and five one-day matches in February-March.

The Lions have held training camps at Sandhurst Military Academy and Loughborough earlier in the winter before a three week stint in the UAE which also included three ODIs against the host nation and a four-day match with Afghanistan.

Clarke was part of the Lions squad which defeated Sri Lanka A – and Pakistan A – in the Tri-Series last summer but expects a sterner test in their own conditions.

He said: "I think in our conditions, we were the better side but in Sri Lankan conditions – and I assume the surfaces we will be playing on with their spinners, the skills they have, and the way their batters play spin – will be really tough for us.

"It is something all this training this winter and the games with UAE and Afghanistan have been preparing us for.

"I'm sure we will have a few practices out there as well before we get going to get used to the conditions but in that respect we've been given the best preparation to go out there and be really competitive.

"I've been to Sandhurst twice now. That is a good sort of experence. A few of the lads were on tour with the Lions last year and played in the summer and there were also some new lads so it was a good chance to get to know everyone.

"That was followed by a week at Loughborough, a camp which was back to cricket and really a chance to get to know everyone and makes it easier for when we went out to Dubai.

"We have played a few games and are now all really friendly and it makes it easier for when we go to Sri Lanka and a fully competitive series against tough opposition."

Clarke top-scored with 42 in the third game against the UAE and says they provided challenging opposition despite the Lions winning 3-0.

He said: "They were quite weird games (against UAE) because apart from that final game, no-one had got above 200.

"They are actually quite a useful side, they are very competitive. I got 40 in that last game but should have been looking at the time to get a bigger score than that.

"At the end of the day, I was happy to contribute in that game.

"It was quite a competitive series but the training and stuff like that was proably just as, if not more important.

"We do all this training to then put it into the games but getting the practice and the training quality we had was almost more beneficial in that respect."

*Read a full interview with Joe Clarke on the Worcestershire CCC website in the next few days.