Ranking the England Lions Squad for Sri Lanka Tour: Who's Next for England Team?

Freddie WildeContributor IJanuary 29, 2014

Ranking the England Lions Squad for Sri Lanka Tour: Who's Next for England Team?

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    On February 1, England Lions will begin a five-match series against various teams from Sri Lanka. 

    The England Lions is generally thought to be the group of players just below the full England team and, in light of the Ashes defeat, there are full Test team places to be played for. 

    This slideshow will offer a brief profile and assess each player's chances of playing Test cricket for England next. The slideshow will start with the least likely player and progress to the most.

Liam Plunkett

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    County: Yorkshire

    Batting Style: Right-hand bat

    Bowling Style: Right-arm fast-medium

    England Chances: Low

    Plunkett played the last of his nine Tests for England in 2007, and although he has reinvigorated his career since a move from Durham to Yorkshire, it is highly, highly unlikely that England will call on him again.

Ollie Rayner

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    County: Middlesex

    Batting Style: Right-hand bat

    Bowling Style: Off-spin

    England Chances: Low

    England are in the hunt for a spinner and Rayner, an offspinner, did have a strong season for Middlesex last year, but he remains some way from the selectors' thoughts.

Tymal Mills

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    County: Essex

    Batting Style: Right-hand bat

    Bowling Style: Left-arm medium-fast 

    England Chances: Low

    There has been much hype surrounding the Essex left-arm tyro, Tymal Mills. People have been impressed by his pace and hostility, and indeed there were rumours that England would play him during the Ashes.

    However, Mills remains a very raw, unrefined bowler, a long way from the type England often consider. His first-class average last year was 70 and his chances of playing Test cricket will remain low until he can perform more consistently in county cricket.

    He's a great prospect in many respects, but he's not ready. A leg-side half volley at 95 miles per hour is still a leg-side half volley.

Alex Lees

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    County: Yorkshire

    Batting Style: Left-hand bat

    Bowling Style: Legbreak

    England Chances: Low

    Lees is a wonderful young talent from Yorkshire—which incidentally seems to be producing a plethora of young batsmen—and many have already spoken of his international credentials. However, he remains young and needs another strong season in first-class cricket to jump ahead of a long queue of batsmen.

James Harris

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    County: Middlesex

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Right-arm medium-fast

    England Chances: Low

    James Harris has been on England's radar from a young age. He is an energetic seam bowler and a useful batsman. He moved from Glamorgan to Middlesex at the beginning of last season, but injuries have since curtailed his progress.

Chris Jordan

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    County: Sussex

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Right-arm fast-medium

    England chances: Low-medium

    Jordan has been playing with the ODI team in Australia and has shown glimpses of real potential. He bowls with good pace and probing lines but can stray in his accuracy. He needs a strong season with Sussex in county cricket to push his case in the Test arena, but he may not be far away—and the management do seem to like him.

Ben Foakes

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    County: Essex

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Fielding position Wicketkeeper

    England Chances: Low-medium

    Ben Foakes is an immensely talented wicket-keeper batsman who forced Adam Wheater to move to Hampshire.

    If Jos Buttler fails to make what seems like an inevitable promotion to the Test side when Matt Prior is done, then Foakes' time may come. Prior is struggling and was dropped in Australia, and if they feel Buttler isn't ready, Foakes may begin to be fast-tracked through the levels. 

Mark Wood

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    County: Durham

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Right-arm fast-medium

    England Chances: Low-medium

    Fast bowling is not really England's problem right now. But Wood does seem to be looked on favourably by the England management. He's been a strong county performer; this year may well prove if he has the skills to become an international success. 

Jamie Overton

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    County: Somerset

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Right-arm fast-medium

    England Chances: Medium

    Overton is a great prospect. Tall and fast, he has impressed many onlookers, and like Tymal Mills, he is still raw. He won't play for England this year but will in the future. 

Sam Robson

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    County: Middlesex

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Legbreak

    England Chances: Medium

    Robson has dual nationality but has chosen to aim to play for England over Australia. Some people have suggested he could be the man to open the batting this summer for England. There are probably other batsmen ahead of him in the pecking order and he is very young, but there is no doubting his great potential. 

Chris Woakes

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    County: Warwickshire

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Right-arm fast-medium

    England Chances: Medium

    Chris Woakes played for England as recently as last August. However, the emergence of Ben Stokes as all-rounder has considerably hampered his immediate hopes. Were Stokes to be injured, Woakes could get another chance.

Scott Borthwick

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    County: Durham

    Batting style Left-hand bat

    Bowling style Legbreak

    England Chances: Medium-high

    Borthwick played in England's most recent Test match, but his selection smacked of desperation and although he picked up a handful of wickets, he didn't impress greatly. He may play in the first Test of the season, but it is unlikely.

Simon Kerrigan

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    County: Lancashire

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Slow left-arm orthodox

    England Chances: (Should be) High

    Kerrigan was rightfully left out of England's Ashes squad following his horrendous debut at the Oval. However, in light of Panesar's decline and Swann's retirement, he is the best spinner in the country.

James Vince

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    County: Hampshire

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Right-arm medium

    England Chances: Medium-high

    England could well be searching for a replacement for Michael Carberry at the top of the order, and although Vince is yet to have a huge county season, he is a very impressive young talent. Selecting him would be an outlandish choice, but he has the natural ability. 

James Taylor

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    County: Nottinghamshire

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Right-arm medium

    England Chances: High

    After Gary Ballance's ascension to the Test side, Taylor is now probably the reserve middle-order batsman for the Test team. He may well get his chance this year after a 2013 filled with disappointment. 

Jonny Bairstow

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    County: Yorkshire

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Right-arm bowler

    Fielding position Wicketkeeper

    England Chances: High

    Bairstow assumed the position of reserve wicketkeeper in the Ashes; however, he did so with little success and many expect Matt Prior to return to the team when the English season begins. Bairstow will, however, remain in and around the set-up and his chances of playing will thus remain high.

Moeen Ali

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    County: Worcestershire 

    Batting style Left-hand bat

    Bowling style Right-arm offbreak

    England Chances: High

    After the batting struggles of the Ashes, Moeen Ali is one of the favourites to come into the team. Ali is an elegant left-handed batsman and a more-than-useful bowler. He's had a hugely successful couple of seasons in county cricket and deserves his chance.

Varun Chopra

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    County: Warwickshire

    Batting style Right-hand bat

    Bowling style Right-arm offbreak

    England Chances: High

    While Ali has many fans, he would be a more risky choice than Chopra who has not only been consistent but is thought to have a studier technique than Ali. Chopra has been a heavy scorer in the early days of the county championship in recent years and if he is so again, then it will be hard to ignore him for the Tests against Sri Lanka.