Key and Co eye senior England calls
Rob Key has urged his fellow England Lions to continue impressing in New Zealand and push for a place in the senior England set-up this summer.
Lions skipper Key has had his touring team plundered during the Test trip to the West Indies, with Amjad Khan, Ravi Bopara, Steven Davies and Gareth Batty all summoned to the Caribbean.
But with West Indies claiming a first Test series win in five years, there could be places up for grabs when the the English domestic season gets under way.
There have been several impressive performers so far for the Lions, who drew their four-day series with New Zealand A 0-0 despite having the best of both matches.
They next face the same opponents in a one-day series, starting tonight in Palmerston North.
Key has his own designs on a long-anticipated return to England’s batting line-up and he has tipped the likes of Sajid Mahmood and Luke Wright to join him in running the established players hard in the coming months.
“In both games it’s taken a special innings to stop us winning and there’s been an awful lot of good cricket,” Key said.
“New Zealand have brought a big list of people who’ve played a lot of international cricket and they’ve had to work hard to stop us getting a result.
"But that’s how it should be on A tours, if you’re looking at coming into the full side you need to be playing serious cricket.
“From that point of view it’s already been a good trip, you are told that you’re next in line when you are selected but that has really hit home.
“We’ve seen several people’s circumstances change very quickly, we’ve had blokes coming and going like the wind. Ravi’s gone, Amjad’s gone, now Steven and Gareth.
“You have to be here to give yourself that opportunity because there is that chance to stake a claim. After that it could come down to who comes out of the traps when the county season starts.”
Asked about which players impressed him most during the four-day Test series, Key was full of praise for cricketers whose futures look bright.
“Luke Wright has had a tough year in many ways but he has come here and got runs every time he has come to the crease,” said Key.
“Batting six as an all-rounder is a hard position but he is a fast developing cricketer and it looks like he has come of age. It is often after a hard period that you improve your game and Luke has come back a better cricketer than ever.
“Sajid Mahmood has also been great. He has a role to play (for England). He’s been bowling quick, rattling a few cages and he’s had some very good batsmen jumping around.
“The next step for him is with England and to become their ‘go-to man’.”