Monday, 28 January 2013

English Lions

The tour party of the England Lions was announced last week as they prepare to tour Australia in February and in the line up were the up and coming youngsters, guys on the fringes of the England side and a couple of senior statesmen from Warwickshire. Here we look at the party and give you the lowdown on who's who...

Rikki Clarke...ticks all of the boxes

A few eyebrows were raised around the country with the inclusion of Rikki Clarke, but not ours here at the Middle Stump. Rikki was the heartbeat of the side that won the County Championship last year, and like a good wine gets better with age. His batting is now good enough to bat in an international middle order, and he is one of the finest players of spin around. He still bowls at a decent pace and has the ability to catch pigeons in the slips. He also reads The Middle Stump so therefore ticks all the boxes bar one, however cricketing sides should not discriminate against the fact that the 31 year old has a season ticket at White Hart Lane!

He will be joined by Chris Wright who also had a fantastic season and Varun Chopra who is now fulfilling the promise of his younger years since his move to Birmingham. All three have left the pastures of Essex, albeit Clarke never played professionally for them, and made hay in the West Midlands.

Ballance...shows us a typical Yorkshire #digin

James Taylor leads the side and he can't be too far away from the selectors minds, and fellow Outlaw Alex Hales should provide the bulk of the runs, after his net in the Big Bash over there. Yorkshire's hard hitting left hander Gary will offer Ballance to the middle order (fuck me, we write some shit on here - Ed), whilst fellow northerners Scott Borthwick and Ben Stokes from Durham tour too.

The stylish James Vince from Hampshire gets the nod, and watch out for Ben Foakes at Essex. The wicket keeper batsman may have to be patient as he is behind James Foster and the excellent Adam Wheater at Essex, but like a rogue gynaecologist he has been known to discard the gloves occasionally and get his joy purely with his wand! Reece Topley, another from the county of the white stilettos, will also tour.

Crossing the Thames Kent provide the excellent Matt Coles who got runs and wickets last year, and Somerset offer Craig Overton. Both of these had a fine 2012 in the LVCC and will be looking to push on with both bat and ball on this tour. Stuart Meaker of Surrey will find the pitches more to his liking in Oz than he did with the main party in India, and Toby Roland-Jones is the rising star at Lord's where he is part of one of the finest seam attacks in the country.

Toby Roland-Jones can also do a spot of umpiring if needed on tour as he shows in the game against Surrey

Simon Kerrigan has been a leading wicket taker for Lancashire in recent years although it is a shame that Danny Briggs misses the gig with an ankle injury. Kerrigan is a fine slow left armer and will now have to take the mantle of senior spinner at Old Trafford now that Gary Keedy has joined Vikram Solanki at the Oval, as an integral part of Surrey's youth policy!

I really like the look of this party and it goes to show that England have the depth pushing the seniors that will only help us become the world number one. Here's to the Lions starting the first of three series victories over their Australian counterparts in 2013.