Friday, June 23rd, 2017

Clarke Regains Lions Spot For New Road Clash With South Africa.

Clarke Regains Lions Spot For New Road Clash With South Africa.

Joe Clarke has regained his spot in the England Lions squad – and will be appearing at New Road next week against South Africa.

The Worcestershire batsman had been a regular member of the Lions set-up for the past 18 months until not featuring in the early games of this summer.

But the 21-year-old has earned a recall after scoring two superb centuries in the Specsavers County Championship triumph over Kent at New Road.

It will give County supporters the chance to see him in action against the tourists in the three-day fixture which starts on Thursday, June 29.

Worcestershire Director Of Cricket Steve Rhodes is delighted at Clarke's return to the international fold.

He said: "Delighted for him. He has had a tough start to the season but it is typical Joe Clarke that he bounced back and showed such resilience to get two hundreds in the same game.

"He showed the sheer determination once he had got in and got his touch back to make the most of it.

"He is an ambitious lad who wants to play for England and he knows the stepping stone to achieve that is the Lions.

"Joe knows he needs to get more runs than the other people who are in the Lions team and we are all delighted for him."

The Proteas match will offer a real opportunity for Clarke to make his mark as it is South Africa's final game before the first Test versus England so they are likely to field a near full strength side.

Gary Ballance has been appointed captain of the 12-man Lions squad. He is currently averaging more than 100 in the Specsavers County Championship in his first season as Yorkshire captain.

Ballance is joined by three players from the England squad for this week’s NatWest T20 International series against South Africa – Sam Billings, Liam Livingstone and Mason Crane.

Billings will be the wicketkeeper while Middlesex opener Sam Robson returns to the Lions squad for the first time since the tour of South Africa in the winter of 2014-15, and Essex batsman Tom Westley is also included after impressing in the two four-day matches against Sri Lanka A in the winter.

Robson will open with Keaton Jennings, who is one of only three players currently facing South Africa A for the Lions in a four-day match in Canterbury who are also included in the squad for next week’s game, along with the fast bowlers Jamie Overton and Tom Helm.

George Garton, the Sussex bowler who was included in the 13-man squad for Canterbury but missed out on the final XI, is again selected, alongside Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood, a team-mate in the ICC Under-19s World Cup early last year.

All four pace bowlers – Garton, Helm, Mahmood and Overton – will be rested from next week’s day/night Specsavers County Championship matches.

The eight remaining members of the squad will be available to their counties for the first two days of the day/night County Championship fixtures before reporting for England Lions duty next Wednesday.

Counties will be allowed fully participating substitutes for days three and four of their fixtures next week.

James Whitaker, the National Selector, said: “We did not consider players from Nottinghamshire or Surrey because the last day of the game clashes with the Royal London One-Day Cup final on July 1, and as ever we were mindful that all 18 first-class counties have important fixtures in the Specsavers County Championship day-night round which runs from Monday to Thursday.

“Gary Ballance has had an excellent start to the season with Yorkshire, impressing with both his batting and his captaincy, and we wanted to give him this opportunity to lead the Lions against international opposition.

“Similarly for Sam Billings, it is a chance for him to show what he can do both as a batsman and a wicketkeeper in a first-class fixture for the Lions after several months playing one-day and T20 cricket for England and in the IPL.

“Sam Robson has earned his recall with his consistent run-scoring for Middlesex, Tom Westley and Liam Livingstone both made a positive impression for the Lions in Sri Lanka last winter, and this is a great opportunity to see Mason Crane bowling with a red ball against international opposition, after such an encouraging start with the white ball this week.

“Mason’s inclusion also means he will be able to work for the first time with Saqlain Mushtaq who will be spending more time with the Lions next week after working with Jack Leach and Dom Bess in Canterbury, as part of his role as a spin consultant with the ECB.”

England Lions (v South Africa, June 29 – July 1):

K Jennings (Durham)

S Robson (Middlesex)

T Westley (Essex)

G Ballance (Yorkshire, capt)

L Livingstone (Lancashire)


S Billings (Kent, wk)

J Overton (Somerset)

T Helm (Middlesex)

G Garton (Sussex)

S Mahmood (Lancashire)

M Crane (Hampshire)