Hildreth earns Parsons praise
David Parsons has given James Hildreth’s captaincy credentials a glowing endorsement ahead of England Lions’ first competitive match of their Caribbean tour.
Hildreth is leading the Lions’ two-month tour of the West Indies despite the presence of more experienced captains in the squad, notably Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale.
Indeed, the Somerset batsman, who enjoyed a prolific 2010 season, only had his first taste of senior leadership during the England Performance Programme trip to Australia in November and December.
However, Parsons is confident the tourists have the right man at the helm for the first of seven first-class matches they will play in the West Indies Cricket Board’s regional tournament, beginning tomorrow against Leeward Islands at Warner Park in St Kitts.
“He expressed an interest in captaining in the future although it’s not one of his key objectives at this stage,” Parsons told ecb.co.uk.
“He thinks well about the game, he leads by example in terms of the way in which he goes about his business, his physical training - the way he practices his skills, the way he looks after himself on and off the field.
“So I think he’ll set a very good example. I think he’s got a good knowledge of the game. I’m confident the decisions he will make under pressure will be good ones and I also think that he communicates well with players, particularly at an individual level.
“I think he will be a very thoughtful captain and I think he’ll be one that will get the best of this group of players that we have.”
One of the most talented players at Hildreth’s disposal is Ravi Bopara.
Bopara, despite having played 54 one-day internationals, missed out on selection for England’s final World Cup squad.
The batting all-rounder will be hoping to recapture the form he showed the last time he played a first-class game in the Caribbean, when he scored a Test century at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Parsons, for one, believes an impressive Lions tour can put Bopara back into the senior England set-up.
“Our underpinning objective is that we’re about preparing players for and assessing players for England,” he said. “Ravi we know is massively talented.
“He’s obviously disappointed not to be in the one-day squad and we would expect that given that he’s been so close in recent times. But Ravi’s pretty determined that he’s going to show what he’s capable of on this tour.
“We have a number of players that you can look at in that squad that will sense they have an opportunity over the next 12 months or so to make that step up into the England team.
“And we have a group of younger players and their chance may come some way down the line but it’s good to have that mixture.
“We hope that all these players have the potential to go on and play for England but some will be closer than others.”
Hildreth, Bopara and company have been benefiting from Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell’s presence on the tour.
Newell guided Notts to the LV= County Championship Division One title last season and Parsons thinks he has plenty to offer the Lions.
“He obviously brings with him lots of experience of the county game,” he added.
“He works alongside some very good players at Nottinghamshire and has overseen their success in recent years. So we’re looking forward to sharing some of that experience with him.
“Similarly, it’s a good opportunity for him to get involved in an England programme so that he will also take away quite a lot from this experience so it’s mutually beneficial.”