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Parsons expresses confidence in Lions duo

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James Taylor and Jonny Bairstow have given ECB performance director David Parsons a "gut feel" they can rise to the challenge if either is needed in next week’s first Investec Test at Lord’s.

Both young batsmen will discover in the next 12 hours whether they may be required as cover or as a direct replacement for Ravi Bopara, who has suffered an 11th-hour quad injury.

The squad to take on West Indies will be revealed tomorrow morning, Taylor and Bairstow each having boosted their profile with a hundred and half-century against the tourists for the Lions at Wantage Road.

Both spent day three in the field while opener Kieran Powell, with 108, and others were putting the West Indies firmly back in the equation; they closed 183 ahead on 377 for eight.

Parsons, who serves as Lions coach, tonight reflected on the turnaround in fortunes on the pitch, and Taylor and Bairstow’s Test aspirations.

“You rarely go on single one-off games. I think you have to be careful not to do that,” he said.

Jonny Bairstow & James Taylor

Jonny Bairstow and James Taylor will discover tomorrow whether they are part of England's squad for the first Investec Test. Both men have received praise from ECB performance director David Parsons

“You are looking at patterns and trends over time that make some sort of prediction as to what players will be like in the future.”

On that basis, Lions captain Taylor and wicketkeeper-batsman Bairstow appear to fit the bill.

“Both Jonny and James have scored quite heavily in Lions games over the last couple of years, as they have in first-class cricket,” added Parsons.

“It’s a good opportunity for all of those guys to press their cases.

“You never know, until they’re given an opportunity. They both average close on 50 in first-class cricket, and more than 50 for England Lions.

“You get a gut feel from skilled observations you make - and then you keep your fingers crossed. You have confidence because of those observations you’ve made of them over time ... that they can be successful.”

As for the Lions’ chastening experience in the field against Powell, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who hit 77, and Darren Bravo, another half-centurion, Parsons said: “You do almost get lulled into that situation where you hope things might work out slightly differently.

“But the pitch was a lot better today, and we have to give these West Indians credit.

“They’ve got some good players, Test cricketers of some repute, and you’d expect them to come back stronger than they did in the first innings.”

Parsons was nonetheless impressed with the tenacity of the home attack.

“I don’t think there was any lack of effort on our part,” he explained. “We didn’t quite get our lengths right all the way through the day, but I thought we stuck at it pretty well.

“At effectively 180 for eight, I think we’re still in a pretty strong position. You want to win these games. But in the bigger picture, you want to see players playing in tough situations.

“It’s been a tough day today, and we learned a bit about the bowlers.”

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